OUR VIEW: It takes a community to name a stadium

By Daily News • Last Updated 2:35 pm on Monday, November 21, 2011

High school football is part of what makes America great.
The fields sit quiet and the bleachers sit empty most of the year. But for nine Friday evenings (or hopefully longer if your favorite team makes the playoffs) the stadiums come alive with a chorus of community spirit virtually unmatched.

Memories are made as boys become men, games are won and lost and the community comes out to cheer its native sons.

For 75 years, Black Field has been the place where these memories were made in Greenville. The field is steeped in tradition. Grandsons have trod the same patch of grass and scored touchdowns in the same endzones as their grandfathers.

But its days have passed. Its successor is being carved from the earth two miles away at Greenville High School and will become the Yellow Jackets’ new home a year from now.

The grand old field was named for Dr. D.K. Black, an exceptional man in Greenville’s formative years around the turn of the 20th century. He was a school board member and donated land for the field out of a deep love for the children of Greenville. He deserved to have his name attached to an important asset that has meant so much to thousands of residents over the decades.

Attention now is shifting to what we should name the new stadium. A groundswell of support has surfaced in favor of naming it after various individuals who have left their mark on Yellow Jacket football.

Certainly, dozens of them would be deserving of having the stadium named in their honor. To name a few:

• Jeff “Doc” Day has been Greenville’s athletic trainer for decades. He has taken part in more than 450 games at Black Field and formed part of the foundation for the football program.

• Dennis Leach was the voice of Yellow Jacket football for years, serving as the public address announcer at Black Field until he died from cancer a few years ago.

• Joe Hattenbach was loved almost universally as coach and brought the team through its most recent unbeaten season in 1983.

• Janet Ralph has volunteered hundreds of hours to Greenville Public Schools behind the scenes as school board president and a quiet source of steady leadership.

• Harold Deines helped shape thousands of our children’s lives as high school principal for 30 years and head football coach for eight seasons.

• Current head coach David Moore is closing in on becoming Greenville’s all-time winningest coach in history. He has coached our boys to plenty of highlights at Black Field.

But naming the stadium after a single person would be wrong. Nothing against any of these folks, but they don’t deserve to have the entire stadium named after them. Possibly some parts of the stadium can be named after some of these individuals, but not the whole facility.

Hundreds of people have left their mark on Black Field and Greenville’s football program over the years. Picking just one to honor as the stadium’s namesake is impossible. How can one of the people named above – or someone not named – be picked over another?

The new stadium’s name should reflect the community that has borne and raised Yellow Jacket football. After all, the community is paying for the stadium and the community will reap the greatest rewards from the memories made there. Some of the most loved stadiums in Michigan – Spartan Stadium and Michigan Stadium – aren’t named for any of the people who made their teams into what they are.

The community is invited to submit stadium name suggestions to Greenville athletic secretary Danielle Palmer at palmerd@greenville.k12.mi.us. We can’t wait to hear what the panel of student council members, administrators and athletics staff come up with. We know the school board will make the right decision.

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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