Youth football keeps opening day at Panther Stadium

Sept. 28, 2017

By Denise DuBois

The Smiths Station Youth Football League has been using Panther Stadium for opening day ceremonies for years. It seemed this year would be different as, at the end of the previous season, Smiths Station High School Athletic Director Sherry Paysinger made an agreement with football league president Adam Sanders to only hold closing ceremonies at Panther Stadium. 

A Sept. 14 Facebook post on the league’s page listing the date and times of opening day games sparked outrage from the Smiths Station community as they wanted to see tradition continue. 

“We’re in the middle of our season,” Paysinger said of the high school football team. “People don’t understand the wear and tear on our field from footprints. They play 10 games and that’s a lot of foot traffic. The field looks beat down after that day. We have a lot of teams that use that field. There is the seventh grade team, eighth grade, ninth grade and varsity teams that use that field almost every week.”

But after a phone conversation with Lee County Superintendent Mac McCoy, Paysinger and he agreed to allow the opening ceremonies continue on T.C. Britton Field.

“If I can rethink something and make a better decision, I will. I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong,” Paysinger said. “I told (the superintendent) that it’s hard on me, but we need to let them play on the field. It means I will have to work harder to get the fields back up, but it’s not about me. I understand parents want to hear their kids’ names called out on the loud speaker and they want their kids to play on the same field they played on.” 

She added that she didn’t want a decision like this to turn anyway away from youth sports in Smiths Station. 

The two organizations will have an understanding, though, that opening day in the future will coincide with away games and open dates of the high school football team so the grass on the field can rebound from a day of youth sports. 

“First and foremost we are extremely thankful to the administration for allowing us to continue our tradition and have our opening day games at the high school stadium aga

in this year,” Sanders said. “The kids always look forward and get very excited to be able to play and cheer in the stadium. This is a great experience for them and creates memories they will have forever. For many of these kids it also gives them a goal and encourages them to work towards being a Smith Station football player, cheerleader or a pantherette.”