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Secondary West Campus Safety & Security Project Part 3: Remembering Wildcat Stadium
As construction continues, we ask students, staff, and alumni to share favorite moments from the stadium's 64-year history.
November 21, 2023
From sporting events to yearly activities such as powder puff, graduation, and school pride – Wildcat Stadium has served as a special place to create memories for many Dallastown students, staff and community members.
This year, DASD began construction on the stadium. Though there will not be a complete renovation, the administration is working towards ADA accessibility and a safer environment for all, and that means the replacement of the original concrete bleachers built in 1958.
The Secondary West Campus Safety and Security Project is a long-awaited need for the school’s stadium. It grants a chance for those in the Dallastown district to relive our recollections of the stadium and honor this monument, while simultaneously getting the excitement for new and better things.
As the construction continues, Dallastown finds itself reminiscing about the stadium that has housed memories for the Dallastown community for over six decades.
History of the Wildcat Stadium
In 1958, Dallastown finished construction of a new secondary campus. This included the current high school and the stadium, which at the time was little more than a dirt track, a grass field, and one section of concrete bleachers.
That original section of seating from ‘58 held up well for its age, but was long overdue for renovation.
According to Superintendent Dr. Doll, there were areas where the bricks were crumbling, there was leaking in the press box, and much of the stadium required updates from lighting to hand rails to bathrooms.
Still, it was in some ways the center of the community.
“During my HS years- our social lives revolves around sporting events at school. I think we went to every football game and track meet!” says Linda Thomas (Class of ’65).
Even though time has passed, high school social lives may not have not changed drastically; many students still attend sporting events to socialize with peers, teachers, and friends.
Before the stadium was built, Dallastown athletes would compete and practice sports at different locations due to the lack of a stadium.
Though it was not a long-remaining issue, the stadium’s construction still affected the students’ daily routines and activities.
28 years later, in 1986, the stadium would undergo another round of significant renovations.
The stadium’s track received a drastic change from the “old-school” dirt lanes to cinder track lanes – suitable for all kinds of weather precautions.
Yet again, the construction had induced subtle modifications to the 1985-1986 school year. A moment of self-sacrificing surfaced from the class of 1986 concerning their graduation.
“It was 1986 and we had to graduate on the parking lot due to the stadium construction!” says an alumnus graduate of 1986.
The class of ’86 experienced a different graduation, though they had to graduate in a parking lot – the ceremony was able to remain on Dallastown grounds. Though the students did not expect this as their graduation, it was a memorable moment in the school’s history that earned the title of “the class that graduated in the parking lot.”
2012 began the active campaign led by the Dallastown Area Educational Foundation to replace the obsolete stadium field with artificial turf.
With the efforts of artificial turf, the field would gain a reduced amount of maintenance yearly. It proves to be weather-proofed and captures an environmental-friendly appeal, as well as benefiting athletics.
Dallastown High School officially broke ground on June 9, 2014. With a set goal, the Dallastown Area School Board of Directors met the amount and raised over $510,000.
The field installation was completed by August 2014 and earned the name “The American Legion Field” courtesy of the great support from The American Legion Dallastown Post 605.
As of late, the Dallastown district is anticipating renovations to the high school stadium once again.
The 2022-2023 school year is integrating the construction of the stadium with the daily basis of things. Complete renovations will not be made, but the focal point is that the administration is working towards an ADA-accessible and safer environment.
“I will NOT miss those steps !! As a teen, I could run up them. As an older adult- no rails, uneven steps- they were a challenge!!” says the same alumnus graduate of 1965.
In the Stands
When the first thought of school formulates inside your mind, perhaps you think of the word homework. Rather than thinking of that, ponder the activities and times filled with entertainment.
Such as the classic FNLs’ (Friday Night Lights) and the football games. As well as our other exceptional sporting events held within our stadium.
In our WildCat stands, everything and everyone has partaken the same “universal” experience as those who’ve before.
“We about froze in the stands as the wind would whip through the bleachers. We had blankets and layers underneath our band uniforms to keep warm. I remember my fingers would be numb from the cold, by the end of our performance,” says an anonymous alumnus.
Dallastown High School’s stands and bleachers have provided memories for the district – though these seats and stairs seem so insignificant, they contradict what is expected because these stands have made “short-term” yet meaningful memories.
“I wasn’t into football, but I did enjoy lots of Friday nights at the stadium! A few of my favorite memories were eating Bricker’s french fries, sitting on the hill during the game, and watching my friends perform with the marching band,” says an anonymous alumnus of 2006.
What is to be expected from the construction is that the steel bleachers will remain, but the concrete stands will be gone and reconstructed to be safer and more practical.
So for the time being, the Dallastown district will reminisce about this year’s football games in our “old-current” stadium. And as a school, we will hold onto these fond memories and think of the past when it used to have its original structure and authenticity from 1958.
On the Track
While the track is not being redone and only going to be unavailable during the construction, it still made so many memories shared in the stadium.
Throughout the years, the Dallastown community would walk or run around the track. It was mostly utilized for exercise, gym class, or just walking around it during sporting events.
But they didn’t always have the track that we know today, it used to be made out of cinder and gravel.
In 1986 the track was replaced with the all-weather track. The track needed an upgrade and it made it more suitable for runners and community members to use.
At football games, many students of Dallastown and visiting schools would utilize the track to talk with friends. It was a time that students could be very social with one another and create memories.
Everyone used to “walk” the track during the games, hanging out with friends and classmates. By far the absolute best part of high school
— Dallastown Alumni
During springtime, the track is always filled with students on the track team practicing.
At Dallastown, runners have been running in the stadium for numerous years, and have built memories and friendships that would last a lifetime.
I still remember my best races under the lights in the invites and county championships. These experiences and positive memories of the facility certainly helped shape me and little did I know I’d become a Head NCAA DI Cross Country/Track and Field Coach as a result of those experiences,” Former DAHS track athlete Stacie Wentz states.
When nobody is using the track many others take the opportunity to walk or run just for fun. They did it alone, with family, or with friends. And, they look forward to continuing after the construction of the stadium is done.
“I ran many laps on the old cinder track from 1964 through 1970. I have continued to run there occasionally since coming home from grad school in 1975. I hope to continue running there in the future. Lots of great track meet and physical education class memories there,” DAHS Alumni David Anderson says.
Walking the track not only was a way to boost your social life or to exercise, but it was a place of love, with memories that would last a lifetime.
“I met my husband at that stadium. In 9th grade, I was a cheerleader. My husband went to Tech, but we had a mutual friend that went to Dtown. We kept watching each other during a football game. He came over after the game. Before I even knew his name, I asked him for a piggyback ride. That was 18 years ago and our kids love to make fun of us because of it.” TBD states.
DAHS Graduation has always been held here at the school. But, due to construction, it hasn’t always been on the field.
The graduation ceremony in 1986 was held in the parking lot of the school, due to construction in the stadium. This time the construction project is causing the 2022 graduation to be held at the York Fairgrounds Expo Center.
High school graduation is a big part of a student’s life. It is the last step out of high school and getting ready to head out to college.
When looking back at past graduation ceremonies, we see the traditional on-the-field graduation. Some years it didn’t necessarily go as planned.
“Our graduation decorations were rained upon we stayed to save what we could and wipe down the seating in the bleachers—memories for all of us,” DAHS Alumni Sandy Ramage Sterner states.
The class of 2020 had a graduation like no other. Due to covid, the graduation ceremony wasn’t a big school gathering, yet an individual graduation for each student.
Students could bring their families to the field to watch them receive their diplomas.
Some Dallastown students would sit at older sibling graduation ceremonies and later would also graduate in the stadium like their siblings in the years before.
“My brother Tom was in the first graduating class that had all 4 years in the new high school. I graduated in 1971.” TBD says
Many students always look forward to their graduation. It’s an emotional day for not only students but for their families as well. They watch as what once was a little kid grows up into an incredible, responsible, and intelligent student.
Even though many wish they would have their graduation at the stadium, it’s not the place where it is held that counts. But, the memories shared in high school, the friendships made, and the meaning of being able to be together on a special day.
On the Field
Victory after victory. Defeat after Defeat. Dallastown athletes competed on the field of the stadium, throughout their high school careers. As some seasons toppled, others rose and delivered gameplays that would stick in people’s memories for a very long time.
In the fall of 2010, the Dallastown Football team went undefeated for the first time in years. The game was the rivalry game against Red Lion. We were leading with two minutes left on the clock and Red Lion was looking like they were going to come back, but Dallastown held on and went 10-0 for the season.
“I have many memories of that stadium, from going to Dallastown/Red Lion games as a kid to graduations.” says ———–. “November 5, 2010 – Red Lion vs Dallastown – In what may be the most attended sporting event in school history, Dallastown came back to beat Red Lion to win the first conference title in 30 years and complete a 10-0 regular season.”
Now at football games, people come to watch the football team. But, we have to give credit to our amazing Dallastown Marching Band, for performing with such amazing talent every time.
“I was in the band front. We were on permitted on the football field to practice one time during the week/ 9th period on Fridays before the game. And we still pulled off complicated drills!” says DAHS band alumni ———–.
Football games were a big part of everyone’s year and hands down the most fan-packed and exciting sports event in the stadium, but there were many other amazing Dallastown sports that have exciting moments on the field.
From the countless senior nights, teacher appreciations, championships, and milestones, Soccer, Lacrosse, Track and Feild, and Feild Hockey have had so many memories that have impacted the stadium and Dallastown through their time in the stadium.
As the stadium renovations start, we will not only remember the look of the stadium, but the laughs, memories, and accomplishments that the stadium will forever hold.