Photo by Chad Koenen
The final varsity football game concluded on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The stadium is being removed as a new one is set to be built in the spring.

Construction for a new stadium set for spring

By Barbie Porter

Editor 

A football field isn’t just a field. Between the hashmarks are moments etched in memories where young men banded together to overcome obstacles and, at times, seemingly impossible odds. 

Throughout the years, cheers from students, parents and fans carried from goal post to goal post. And many memorable moments have been told over campfires and holiday gatherings of what transpired on the field.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, Frazee beat Roseau to close out the regular season. The Hornets brought home a win to conclude the field’s history, as it will be the last varsity game played there. A new stadium is set to be built. It is not known what the new field will be called, or if the press box will have a dedication. 

When Steve Carlson arrived in Frazee to teach social studies and coach ninth grade football in the fall of 1974, Carl Ingebrightson was the superintendent and Frank Hesby was the head football coach. The field was eventually named in Ingebrightson’s honor and the press box in Hesby’s.

Carlson recalled prior to the press box upgraded there was a “rickety” old press box that had outlived its purpose. The boosters and team raised funds and received a generous donation from the Hesby family toward building a new suite where equipment could be stored on the lower level, the press could call the games and coaches could have a bird’s eye view of the field.

“That build was spearheaded by John Olson and the Ace Construction Crew,” Carlson recalled, noting back then Olson, who now co-owns the Frazee hardware store, was teaching industrial arts at the school at the time.

Eventually Carlson became a head football coach. He took over the program from 2003 through 2007. While changes happen, as they do with the passage of time, the old light system remained. During Carlson’s tenure as coach, he recalled the Friday night lights posed challenges, as the bulbs of yesteryear do not have the brightening quality of modern technology.

“There have been some good teams that played on that field,” Carlson said, noting conference champions were made throughout the 1970s and several of those players have been inducted into the Frazee Hall of Fame.

Jim Rader was one of those players under the guidance of Hesby that saw success in the post-season. 

For the Frazee resident his passion for the sport started in childhood. He recalled being one of those children near the back of the end zone playing impromptu scrimmages while simultaneously cheering on the varsity players. When he was called to take the varsity field,  Rader played several positions. On offense he was a running back and defense he played linebacker and defensive back. He was also a member of the special teams as a punt and kick returner.

“I have many, many good memories on that field,” Rader said. “They are about the game and the time with my teammates.”

Rader shared there was one game in particular that brings a smile. The Hornets were in the first round of the playoffs and faced a team known by their reputation as a powerhouse in football. 

“For Blackduck, we heard football was the pride of the town,” he said. “While we didn’t know about them, in turn, they didn’t know about us.”

The Hornets won 35-0. 

“For me, the memories are about what we were able to do as a team; it was a physical chess match and all 11 guys on the field had to do their part for us to find success,” he said. 

That mentality carried over to Rader’s days as a coach for the program, which included coaching Jim Jacobson. 

Jacobson is now a teacher at the high school, who also became the football team’s head coach. He joined the program as an eighth grader in 1997 and continued with the  sport through his senior year. When he reached varsity his head coach was Dave Trautman and assistants included Carlson, Rader, Jeff Skogmo and Kyle Knutson. 

In many ways, Jacobson’s memories mirrored Rader’s for experiences as a football team member. The good outweighed the struggles that the aging field presented. With negatives, there are positives. Jacobson noted the smaller stadium provided more noise, which athletes fed on for extra energy and motivation.  

While those moments in time are captured in the hearts and heads of former players and coaches, the men are all glad the district took steps to improve the facilities. Jacobson said he believes the district is rebuilding instead of remodeling the stadium because much of it has become antiquated.  

“I think we are going to end up with a complex that our team and community can be extremely proud of,” Jacobson said. “I was fortunate to be a part of the discussion for the new field and track.  I do think we are going to have a very nice facility that will allow us to host some great events and be a model that other schools will use to build from in the future.”

The new stadium will face the opposite of the current one, which means the setting sun won’t factor in as much during varsity games. There will be a new lighting system put in place, as well as bleachers, a 270-square-foot press box and new concession stand with public bathrooms. In addition to the football field upgrades, the track will also be new.  

“Currently, there is five lane cinder track,” Carlson said. “That is so unique because that surface is not used today.”

The new complex will offer eight lanes, additional field event space and when all is said and done, the district will have the option of hosting conference meets or section events. Rader explained the current facility removed those big events as an option, as the conference has eight teams. 

The project had an estimated price tag of about $2.7 million to be paid for through a long-term facility maintenance bond and lease levy.  The project work is scheduled for April through July of 2022.

The new stadium will relocate the football field, provide new lighting, bleachers, a press box and an eight lane track.