By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — The days of smacking an old splintered piece of wood before heading out onto the practice field are long over.
On Saturday Aug. 20, in front of team members and fans, a new Skyhawk Archway was officially christened as part of the Fairborn High School football tradition.
“There used to be a rusty, old chain-link fence here, and now thanks to three community members — Ron Russell, Jack Gayheart and Joan Dautel — they helped put together this fencing project, and get a nice wrought-iron fence in place with this beautiful marble archway. They’ve done a lot to help upgrade our facilities,” Fairborn Athletic Director Micah Harding said, moments after Saturday’s christening ceremonies. “There used to be an old wooden board, that said ‘Win the GWOC South,’ and we wanted to spice it up and give the kids something they could be proud of.”
The black marble archway has a statue of a Skyhawk on the very top of it. Within the arch, there’s a stone football that the players can touch as they enter or exit the football practice field. Each of the players and coaches, and a few of the fans, passed under the arch after Saturday’s ceremonies to pat the stone for good luck.
First-year coach Chris Roark said the upgraded facilities should tell his players that their role is an important one within the Fairborn community.
“They’re the stewards of the program,” Roark said. “You had a lot of people come here before you, that do care about you, who want to see you have success. You have the young guys who are coming up behind you, who look up to you as role models, and everything you do they look at and they see how you handle yourself. You have a responsibility to go about business a certain way, and this kind of serves as a symbol of what we’re all about.
“We’re about bringing the past together to have success, not only in our football program, but later on in life. … This is ‘Hawk Pride, and anyone who passes through that arch becomes a part of that.”
Harding said the arch was paid entirely with private donations, that no public funds were used. He couldn’t help but smile when asked about the arch.
“It’s beautiful. It’s kind of a symbol of hard work and the expectations we have for our team,” Harding said. “It will serve as a reminder to the players to give their best effort and to know that they’re representing a Fairborn community that is behind them all the way.”
Fairborn’s first regular season high school football game of this season will take place Friday at New Carlisle Tecumseh High School.