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USD 410, Tabor College celebrate stadium project: Groundbreaking has flair

Goalposts were torn down Saturday afternoon following the Tabor College football game.

No, it wasn’t because the Bluejays had a big win. It was the last game of the season and now is the time to prepare for a new football field.

A plow pulled by a tractor broke dirt in a groundbreaking ceremony of the new Joel Wiens Stadium.

Formerly Reimer Field, renovations to the field will include artificial turf, synthetic track, bleachers, press box, concession stand, and bathrooms through a financial partnership with USD 410.

Prior to the ceremonies, community officials shared their views of the project during a halftime ceremony.

“You have two major entities of the community combining their resources and expertise to create a facility to benefit the entire community. That will bring new business to the Hillsboro community,” said Tabor College President Jules Glanzer. “The Anticipation Party and Groundbreaking Ceremony were tributes to the character of the project.”

“It’s a great day for both of our learning organizations, a defining moment,” said Hillsboro High School Principal Max Heinrichs. “I would like to thank the USD 410 and Tabor College communities for making this dream a reality.”

Rod Koons, president of the USD 410 board of education, said the new stadium project exemplified the best of community teamwork.

“As an acronym, the word team stands for Together Everyone Accomplishes More, and that’s what this project is about,” Koons said. “It’s not a Tabor project, it’s not a USD 410 project. It is a joint, community project. And because we’re working together, we can create a facility that will be the envy of everyone in the area.”

Del Reimer, former Tabor athletic director and coach, for whom the current stadium is named, said it was “high time” for a stadium upgrade.

“In 1961, this field was dedicated and after 47 years of activities on this field, we are now embarking on an upgrade which I think is very good,” Reimer said. “I want to commend USD 410 and the college for working together on this project. I’m excited and look forward to this. Maybe the next time I come out, I will be on the new field!”

In a moving testimony, Dr. Craig Ratzlaff, of Wichita, a former Tabor College football player standout and a member of the Tabor College Board of Directors who is leading the fund-raising effort for the stadium project, told how the college’s football program had forever changed a former teammate.

“Twenty-six years ago a friend of mine came to Tabor to play football,” Ratzlaff said. “He came from South Florida. He wasn’t churched. He didn’t know Christ. He didn’t know anything about Kansas. He called me the other day and said, ‘You know, I came here to participate in football, but it was Christ who changed my life’.”

Ratzlaff asked the crowd to consider the eternal impact of a new athletic facility.

“As we look around at the old wooden board of the bleachers, at the rusty iron, and at the scoreboard that has never changed, and at the fallen-down press box, we can look back with some thanks at some great memories. But I invite you also to look forward, to what lives could be changed on a new field.”

Tabor College football players, still in their uniforms from the game, made sport of the tradition of tearing down the goalposts.

When it was time for the groundbreaking ceremony, there weren’t golden shovels. Instead a large, eight-wheeled John Deere 9220 tractor pulling a plow, tore up the ground, beginning at the goal line.

As the Tabor pep band played, the tractor revved up its engine and dropped its plow.

Students wearing Tabor football sweatshirts grabbed pieces of the turned-up sod and tossed them into the air. Some took chunks of the dirt home, as souvenirs.

Even though the Bluejays hadn’t won their last game, Glanzer said Tabor had in fact scored the last touchdown ever at Reimer Field.

Completion of the new Joel Wiens Stadium is anticipated in time for the 2009 football season.

Last modified Nov. 19, 2008

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