Mooseheart is ready to unveil their renovated stadium Saturday for the Ramblers' first home game of the season.
Photo courtesy of Darryl Mellema
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Mooseheart's football players have already experienced the spectacle.
Come Saturday anyone who wishes to pay the price of admission - free! - to the Ramblers' 1 p.m. home opener against Northeastern Athletic Conference foe Luther North can also witness what a couple million generously donated dollars can do to a football stadium.
As part of a $3 million bounty funded by the Ohio State Moose Association to improve both Mooseheart's football stadium and field house, a laundry list of needed fixes was addressed to benefit player and spectator alike.
First off, there's a vibrant new FieldTurf surface which incorporated a superior drainage system to correct the old one that wicked water to the center of the field, not off it.
Mooseheart is known for its speed-burner athletes. The improved track won't necessarily help Saturday against Luther North - which comes in having been outscored 112-6 - but those athletes will eventually be able to light up a freshly topped, Rambler-red composite surface.
In the stadium grandstand, new handrails have been installed, as well as new aluminum bleachers to replace the old fiberglass benches. Even the aisles have been widened for easier access and mobility.
The grandstand's formerly cracked concrete that once allowed water to drip onto the concourse below has been fixed and sealed.
Keeping up with those repairs, the concession stand has a new floor and ceiling, and (attention, ladies) the restroom facilities have been upgraded.
Players feel better about their game when they are comfortable and proud of their surroundings. Saturday the Ramblers will put on their uniforms in a refurbished locker room before taking the brightly marked field for a game that's the centerpiece of Mooseheart's Illinois Day - the Saturday in September when Moose members statewide visit the children supported by their membership dues.
"I think there's anticipation and anxiety that's built and built," said Ramblers coach Gary Urwiler. "We've been able to get on the field to practice. Now to be able to play in front of a home crowd with it being Illinois Day weekend, it builds the excitement and enthusiasm even more."
Football quote of the week
"I had a number of people ask me after the game, 'How's my neck?' because it was like a tennis game, back and forth," St. Charles North football coach Mark Gould said about the North Stars' 62-49 win over McHenry. "I told them, it wasn't my neck, it was my heart."
Catching up with...Steve Loran
West Aurora's Steve Loran enters this Saturday's Woodruff Invitational at Peoria's Detweiller Park aiming to improve on his top finish there, 16th-place as a sophomore in 2008. A senior whose sister, Claire, is a top-seven runner for the Blackhawks' girls cross country team as a sophomore, Steve stopped playing baseball and took up running in seventh grade. A National Honor Society student who sees himself either a business or psychology in college, Loran finished just off the 3,200-meter qualifying time at the 2010 Class 3A West Aurora sectional with a personal-best time of 9 minutes, 34.86 seconds. He's run the 1,600 in 4:38 and sophomore year in cross country ran a personal-best 14:58 at Aurora's Oakhurst Forest Preserve. Loran favors cross country over track, slightly, due in part to the variety cross country offers "as opposed to going around a flat track all the time."
Q: What's the weirdest thing you've seen on a cross country course?
A: Probably the weirdest thing I've ever seen, I'm pretty sure, is me and my teammates for the past three years have done this invitational at Woodstock. It's kind of a weird course, there's so many twists and turns everywhere. You have to run through part of a playground. It's kind of a corny way to put it, but there's kind of a mini-jungle gym that you'd play on when you were a kid.
Q: What are your running goals for your senior year?
A: Definitely my goal for cross country is to gradually get faster throughout the season and qualify for the state meet. At the sate meet the top 25 finishers receive all-state status and I'd like to get in that category. That's probably my biggest goal for the season. (In track) I definitely want to qualify in the 3,200, but also, too, I'd like to get in the fast heat at the state meet, qualify in sectional among the fastest runners.
Q: How many miles a week do you run?
A: It varies. Throughout the summer I built up to about 53-55, but now I'm back down to the mid-40s, around 45 to 50.
Q: Have you ever been hurt?
A: I've been hurt twice, actually. After the John Bell (Invitational track meet at West Aurora) my sophomore year, from that event and the next three days I tweaked my hamstring. That was my own fault, I overtrained... The second time was this last winter, of my junior year, I took a misstep. It was kind of a freak injury. I took a misstep running outside, and took another misstep and pulled my IT band. I went through a five-week rehab and was able to be almost 100 percent by sectionals.
Q: Do you have a nickname?
A: The only nickname I can think of is coach (Matt Sinnott) called me 'Big Steve' sometimes.
Q: Are there any foods you won't eat?
A: I know it's kind of a bad-nutrition thing, but I really don't like any green vegetables. I know it's unhealthy, but I just don't like them.
Q: What's your proudest moment?
A: Probably my proudest moment... I'm trying to think... Probably when I made the National Honor Society at my school. it gave me a lot of confidence that I could get into a lot of good colleges and it would be a great thing to put on my resume. And I'm much higher ranked in my class than I ever thought I'd be.
Q: What's it feel like when you're nearing the chute with a lead?
A: I just try to haul, haul, haul, finish strong. And once I cross the line I just try to celebrate with myself. ... I feel the more arrogant you are the more bound somebody is to beat you with your cocky, arrogant mindset. That's wasted energy, a bad mindset to have. I feel no matter how fast you are, you should not have that mindset.