CHAMPION — Two ball fields to be built behind Champion High School were dedicated Friday to two former school board members — the Larry Durch Baseball Field and Roger Samuelson Softball Field.
A groundbreaking Friday was attended by school officials, students and parents and township and state representatives.
Durch died at age 72 in 2013 and Samuelson at age 79 in March 2017.
Board member David Mahan, who eight years ago was elected to the school board, said he served with both Durch and Samuelson.
“The two of them were the epitome of Champion,” Mahan said. “If you ever wanted to know about Champion, these were the two men to ask. They did everything for the kids, the community and the schools.
“If you played baseball in Champion you knew Larry Durch. If you played softball you knew Roger Samuelson.”
The ball fields will be near the new K-8 School complex under construction south of the high school off state Route 45.
“This is a very historic event in Champion Township’s history,” Board of Education President Kelly Boyle said.
High School Principal John Grabowski said in June that Champion schools received a $10,000 check from Cafaro Field for the athletic program. He said the money will be used for improvements to the Winterhaven complex on the school grounds and for scoreboards for the two new fields.
“This is change in history as we our recognizing our past and transitioning into our future,” he said.
Grabowski said Champion will now have the opportunity to host district title games on the new fields, he said.
”This will be very exciting for us in the future,” he said.
State Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren, said Durch and Samuelson ”were compassionate, grateful, humble and honest.”
”These words epitomized these gentlemen, but most importantly, they were committed to Champion schools, Champion athletic program and the Champion community. What a fitting honor for these two men to be adorned in Champion athletics forever,” he said.
Township Trustee Jeff Hovanic said, ”It is the turning of the earth here today which helps to represent what we as a community build together.”
”We as citizens again, are building a piece of our community’s future as we recognize and honor those who gave of themselves and took good care of our past as tireless stewards of the youth of Champion Township,” Hovanic said.