Sonja Reis | MRCDC
It’s been 40 years since the grass field at Sto-Rox Memorial Stadium has been resurfaced and for many of those years, fear of further damaging the already fragile playing area forced the school district to severely limit access.
Last year, the field was used to host just 15 events. That number includes an entire season of high school football. Average annual usage in Western Pennsylvania for a synthetic turf field is more than 100 events.
For some time, the idea to bring a first class field to the community has been on the minds of many, especially Ray Puskar, a former Sto-Rox principal well known for his tireless volunteer work in both McKees Rocks and Stowe Township, the neighboring communities that comprise the school district.
Puskar serves on many committees in the area, including our Board of Directors where he is vice president. He’s a commissioner in Stowe where the junior/senior high school serves as a focal point in the West Park neighborhood.
He’s also one of a group of folks committed to bringing an artificial field to the people of Sto-Rox. The “It Starts With the Field” committee is working with the backing of the community and the school district to run a fundraising campaign to replace the old football field at the high school with a new synthetic turf activity field.
So far, the group has collected about $100,000. Estimated cost for field replacement is $600,000. An additional track is not being considered because of increased price. Plans are also in play to petition the National Football League Grassroots Foundation for a matching grant.
“Mr. Puskar – I can’t call him Ray – told me, ‘Pride is one of the key ingredients that we’re missing in the area. We need something first class, something that will be used by everyone in the community and we need for people to take ownership,'” says Chuck Fusina, alumnus and committee member. Before playing in the NFL, Fusina led the Vikings as the quarterback in the early 1970s and during his college career with Penn State became the 1978 Heisman Trophy Runner-up.
Other notable Sto-Rox Field Committee members include Tom Diecks, Pete Leone, Jim Lind, Sean Hopkins, Ken Hohman, Mike Kissel, Bruce Byrom, Pam Rippole, Mike Cercone, Alan Catanzariti, Kim Springs, Jody Dickerson, Jimmy Pastin, Sherine Raymond and Cindy Alexander.
“In small towns everywhere, the school is the focal point. With a tangible first class facility, the students will take ownership,” says Chuck Fusina. “Right now they look out the windows at a cow pasture and think there is no commitment.”
In addition to allowing for increased usage, a synthetic field offers lower maintenance costs and improved safety.
“We are working and raising funds to build a beautiful activity field – it’s an activity field, not a football field – for our school and our people and to help to create a new mindset in our town,” says Fusina. “We have to do this right. Not just football, but for the band, the cheerleaders” and other sports such as soccer or field hockey and for other activities.
To get involved, see accompanying documents with instructions on how to pledge your support. Committee member Puskar can be reached at 412-771-1282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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