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How Did North Become Polar Bears?

She Lives Again!!!!

 By:  Leeann Faust

Over 4000 excited fans teamed through the gate as flags flew over the stadium at North High’s Hagely Field.  Alumni, wearing North High shirts, jackets and hats, greeted each other.  The concession stand was doing a brisk business. The band played the Polar Pep.  The crowd roared as they watched two long runs and five touchdowns by the home team and one by the opponents.

<>It was not a Friday night, between 1927 and 1978, but September 1, 1995 as Hagely Field and the stadium came alive again, becoming the home of the Bishop Waterson Eagles.  What a wonderful new beginning!

She had sat idle for 17 years.  Weeds grew, trash accumulated, gates rusted, seats rotted and splintered.  Terrible blue paint had carelessly been slapped on and even that was peeling.  Concrete had broken away in chunks and graffiti adorned her walls.  She was in a deplorable condition.  You could almost hear her sobs.  No one noticed!

<>A loan Polar Bear, the late Dave Sharon ’69, was the first to help.  With a brush and a bucket of gold paint he tried to save what remained of some seats.  Soon other PBAA members heard her cry.  She must have given a weak smile when they arrived with brooms, rakes, shovels, yard tools and plastic bags.  Audrey Petry ’58, Charlie Jackson ’57 and Bob Reid ’56 began sweeping between her seats and down the steps.  Don Holliday, Wally Palmer and Don Smith (all ’56) joined Dave pulling weeds.  Leeann Faust ’58 and Ruth Ballantyne Kelly ’39 swept, raked and shoveled trash and leaves.  Everyone said they would return, but she must have wondered, would they really be back?  <>
The group returned the next Saturday.  Yes! They still care.  Linda Mathers ’58, Dale Hunt ’56 and Steve Ratcliff ’70 soon joined.  Week after week a few PBAA members showed up with big smiles, supplies and determination.  She responded quickly to their loving attention and thanked her “friends” by bringing them happy memories of fall evenings sitting on her seats, cheering for the Maroon and Gold.

The next year the focus changed.  They arrived with brushes and paint.  The ugly blue was covered with maroon.  Sally Scott Yerina ’51 struggled in with enough cleaning supplies to last the whole summer.  Bob and Betty Preston Valentine (both ’45) were always busy pulling weeds and picking up trash around the school.  A few neighbors pitched in, trimming trees and shrubs.  Dick Fulton ’56 repaired electrical fixtures and cleaned out a locker room.  Nancy Baker Mercer ’59 teetered on top of a ladder painting a gate.  Everyone enjoyed the comradely of fellow Polar Bears as they worked for a common purpose.

<>She heard talk of the concession stand actually being used.  Four truckloads of trash were removed.  It was cleaned and painted.  Sure enough, on the Fourth of July they were actually serving Cokes and White Castles over the counter.  It might not have been like the old times but it felt good to be useful, even if it was for only one day.  <>
She rejoiced when neighbors said they appreciated what was being done and that she was beginning to look much better.  But, it was depressing when others said, “Why are you wasting your time?” Or shook their heads and remarked, “There will never be another regular football game played on that field.” However, the simple answer, “Restore her and they will come,” made her heart sing.  Maybe they would!

Newspapers began writing about her.  Still there was little money and so much work to be done with only a few hands.  It seemed impossible.

However, her dreams came true when the Bishop Watterson  Eagles heard about her and the work that was being done. They excitedly swooped in and showed the doubters what could be done in just three months.  A homeless team and a teamless stadium found each other.  Sports came back to Hagely Field.

<>She once again stands proud and full of joy.  As you drive down Arcadia Avenue you can almost hear her say, “This is a place where memories are being made and relived.  Welcome!”