New BLHS football complex nears completion
Steve Hopkins no longer has to paint the football field at Basehor-Linwood High School.
He has coached football for 33 years and every year, no matter what the school he was coaching at, he had gone through the task of lining the field with the correct lines and then painting them.
“My wife was teasing me because I don’t have to paint the fields this year,” he said.
The school district’s new stadium field turf — equipped with a Bobcat logo in the center — includes yellow end zones and painted yard lines. The permanent markings mean Hopkins has one less thing to worry about.
He can now focus on preparing practice plans. This summer, he has witnessed the installation of field turf and construction of a new track that is expected to be completed later this month. He has watched new goal posts go up, replacing posts that were initially constructed in the BLHS metal shop.
He has seen how the draining system works.
On a rainy night in July, Hopkins went up to the school and walked around. As the rain poured down, it drained and the field was in much better shape than grass ever would have been.
“It is flat and the entire turf field is one drain,” he said. “I just walked around on it, and water drained right through it. We can have several inches of rainfall in one day and be fine.”
He said the changes will put the program on par with other schools.
“The improvements make this a top-notch facility,” Hopkins said. “I wish football started tomorrow. Our kids are just giddy and ready to get on it and feel what it is like.”
Hopkins said it will be nice to play in the renovated stadium.
“Oh, it will be awesome,” he said. “We have been spoiled to play at Piper and Bonner Springs (which also have turf fields) and I appreciate this new turf so much.”
Athletics Director Joe Keeler said the construction project has gone smooth since the USD 458 Board of Education approved it in January. With the turf in, the new red track should be completed by the end of this month. Keeler is pleased with the project, and he said the district will continue improving its athletic facilities.
“We have made great strides over the years and continue to do so,” he said. “It is an exciting time for our school and community.”
The turf also can be used for multiple activities. Middle school football games can take place on the field. If the soccer team had no other venue to play a game because of rain, it could be switched to the football stadium.
In addition, the field turf could be used for baseball or softball practices.
The track will have multiple jumping pits and a pole vault area. With the track, Basehor-Linwood could apply to host a regional track and field meet.
“It will be as good as any 4A facility that I am aware of,” Hopkins said. “It will have two long jumps, two triple jumps. We will be ahead of other 4A schools.”
The school district is also completing work on a health and wellness center that should have weight equipment moved in within a couple weeks. The facility will be used for physical education classes.
“We will have 300 kids involved in classes next year,” said Ross Schwisow, strength and conditioning coach. “To have that many kids taking these classes is a testament that students want to have good health, and having that building will make the program even stronger. I am excited. I know that this facility can take us to the next level.”
Basehor-Linwood is hoping to have an open house during Meet the Bobcats night on August 26.
“It will look like a totally different stadium when you go in,” Hopkins said. “The bleachers and press box are the only things that have not changed.”