CHESTERMERE – It took the dream of one longtime teacher and a lot of fundraising to make the lights on the football field a reality at Chestermere High. However, all of the hard work paid off, as the field was lit up for the first ever night game this past Friday, Oct. 14.
The home team’s bleachers were filled with football fans who stayed loud and supportive despite the chilly fall weather, and CHS’s marching band came out to support the team, playing a set before kickoff and also entertaining the crowd at halftime.
The man with the dream to see the lights on the field is also the coach of the Cowboys team, Brian Utley. He has been the athletic director at CHS for over 30 years, and the football field is named after him. Utley said that the experience of being there for the first ever “Friday Night Lights” game was hard to express.
“It’s very exciting because it’s been so long coming,” he said. “On Thursday night when we turned them on and saw them for the first time, it was kind of surreal.”
Utley said that there isn’t usually as big of a crowd as there was for Friday’s game, and that he was glad to see students and staff alike come together to support the team.
Utley said that the lights – which cost over $100,000 total including material and labor expenses – were paid for mostly through donations. He said that they had a lot of help from school alumni, parents, and businesses, with some of the funding coming in from government grants.
“There was a lot of work and a lot of installation costs,” he said.
Not only did the new lights make for a good atmosphere for the crowd, but they created a little extea spark in the team, who ended up dominating the Bert Church Chargers and winning 36-15.
Utley said that being able to win during their first game under the lights was “the icing on the cake.”
“To be able to get that first win with the lights felt great,” he said. “We’ve worked hard these past few weeks and we’re happy with what we did on the field.”
With the first ever night game played on Utley Field now come and gone, the Cowboys now need to focus on the remainder of thier season. The squad has one more game to go before potentially making it to the league finals, as they will play this Saturday in the semi-final playoffs.
Last time they played the George McDougall Mustangs they tied them 19-19, so Utley said that they hope to win and get to go to the finals.
“Thanks to anyone who had any part in getting those lights in,” Utley said. “There are so many people to thank.
“It’s been about eight years since we started fundraising so it was nice to see everything come together.”