The Woodlawn Athletic Park celebrated its official grand reopening on August 24, with ceremonies and a pair of local minor football games.
It happened more two years after the Souris River flooding damaged the park. The last games to be played at the park's Dana Quewezance Memorial Field were in 2010.
“The field looks excellent, the facility is back up and running, we’re really happy overall,” said Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football (EMF) president Steve McLellan. “I think we definitely need to recognize the hard work everyone’s done because certainly it wasn’t done overnight … it was tens of thousands of hours of work put into that.”
Before for the game there was an opening ceremony to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors that were a big part of the restoration of the park.
EMF board member Kevin Mortenson was the master of ceremonies at the grand reopening, and he applauded those who have helped out with the park and with the football programs.
The athletic park rebuild was a big project, Mortenson said, and it took a lot of people in the community to come together and get it back to where it was.
When it comes to the overall rebuild, the field is complete and up to the appropriate standards, but there is still work to be done. Lighting and the scoreboard still have to be installed, McLellan said.
One aspect of the athletic park that is better than it was before the floods is the building that houses the dressing rooms. A lot of work went into it.
He says that the youth are excited and happy with the results of the field rebuild and its facilities.
“I think it was good to show them … and have them feel that this has a sense of home and this is where we belong to play,” McLellan.
During the grand reopening, the family of former CFL football player and Saskatchewan Roughrider Bryan Illerbrun made a donation of $1,000 to EMF. Illerbrun played football in the Estevan and Gainsborough areas when he was a youth.
His widow, Nora Keating, offered encouraging words to the football players that her late husband would often say.
“You always play with 100 per cent and more. Even if you don’t like that person off the field, he’s your best friend on the field,” said Keating.
EMF board member Val Paulson announced that there will be an award given out to a player in each division of EMF, and with the Estevan Comprehensive School football program, in honour of Illerbrun. Keating was appreciative and honoured, as she said that Brian loved the sport of football.
The donation also meant a lot to the EMF organization as McLellan said it was important to recognize somebody from the area who was very dedicated to football. He said they’re not sure what the criteria of the award will be, but it will be given out to somebody who shows perseverance and sportsmanship throughout the season.
Even though the athletic park has come a long way since 2011, McLellan said there is still more work to be done to improve the facilities, which is why Estevan is entered in the Richardson Pioneer Rider Nation Community Celebration. The community that receives the most online votes will win $50,000; the two runner-ups each get $25,000.
McLellan said that in the next couple of weeks, the contest will be the EMF’s main priority, as they need the funding and encourage people to vote regularly, as they are allowed one vote per day.
The three finalists will be invited to the Saskatchewan Roughrider game on September 14, and that is when they will find out if they won the top prize.