After years of traveling from Mineral Wells to Godley and various points in between for “home” football games, the Trinity Christian Academy Eagles finally have a football home to call their own.
Friday, Sept. 9, was the unveiling of Eagle Stadium, the first part of a multi-million dollar three-phase project that will later include facilities for a variety of sports. But this night belonged to the football program — and track, as come spring they will also be making use of the new facility.
“I just got chills driving up,” said TCA school board member Tish Stanfield, mother of two daughters, one a graduate and another a junior currently at the school.
Then, she added, nodding to her friend next to her, Suzanne Kelley, “We were texting this morning. It’s so exciting.”
Kelley called the new stadium an answer to prayers, adding, “I can’t wait to spend more time here with my children and grandchildren. I’ll go back 20 years from now and remember that one day there were cows out here.”
The dressing rooms have yet to be completed, but that didn’t seem to bother the players who only had to go a short distance from and back to the school compared to previous seasons. Before this, the closest they had to home field was Aledo Middle School for several seasons.
“It feels great to have this place to call home, a short little bus ride from the school,” junior wide receiver/defensive back Jake Anderson said. “This has been a long time coming.”
Junior wide receiver/defensive back Matthew Sykes said, “It’s so much easier to get here, so much better. I’m extremely grateful for what God’s given us. I ran through (the paper sign to go onto the field) and saw all the TCA supporters and I was speechless.”
His twin brother, junior wide receiver/linebacker Jackson Sykes, added, “To just play at home is so cool. Every other ‘home’ was not that at all. It’s really cool for the players and fans to not have to travel so far.”
Cheerleaders were also getting in on the excitement of finally being able to cheer for a real home team.
“We are beyond excited. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said junior Olivia Cockrum.
Senior Amberlie Daniels, who also runs track, said she’s thrilled to be able end her final year at TCA in the new stadium.
“I came here in the third grade. It’s such a weird feeling, but a good kind of weird, to finally have our own stadium. It’s amazing to show God’s glory,” Daniels said.
Before the game, several supporters of the athletic program gathered at midfield and pulled back a pair of tarpaulins to unveil the TCA logo at midfield. That brought a few tears to some eyes, as did seeing numerous former players back for a visit.
“It’s a come-to-fruition kind of thing,” said TCA assistant boys basketball coach Dayton Sheridan. “To go from Aledo Middle School to Godley to here, right down from our own school, it’s nice to look around and have this thing now.’
School board member Bert Thompson, who led the campaign for the new facilities, said, “I’ve already cried three times today, that’s why I’ve got my glasses on. When we ask God for things, and he gives us those things, we have to thank him.”
Thompson said he was excited he arrived at the stadium at sunup for last-minute preparations before the big unveiling.
“I got here at about 6:15. I couldn’t sleep. I was picking some weeds and whatever else I could find to try and make things as perfect as they could be,” he said. “This is going to be great for our community, and Willow Park has been so accommodating.”
Even the opposing team and fans seemed excited about the evening.
“It’s going to be so cool for our boys to play on this new field. I’m so happy for the folks at Trinity that they have this,” said Dallas Christian Home Educators manager Avery Countryman.
And though there are still some finishing touches to be made, for example, visiting bleachers — the home side seats around 1,000 — the evening was like unwrapping a new present for the TCA faithful. And for future Eagles, well, they are definitely exciting and anxiously awaiting their turn.
“I like the beautiful turf, the way the sun shines on it,” said fourth-grader Jace Shaw, who plays youth football.
In fact, some don’t want to wait for their turn when they get older, like fellow fourth-grader and youth football player Jackson Presley, who nodded to Shaw and said, “After the game tonight we’re gonna go wrestle on it.”
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