The Tomorrow River School District’s Heartland Farms Field captured the Midwest Sport and Turf Systems (MWSTS) Home Field Pride Contest Wisconsin state title in late October. The prize earned the school $1,000 in prize money plus more than $20,000 in additional donation pledges. Amherst’s stadium generated 11,331 votes during the six-day finals hosted at wissports.net. Menasha finished second with 8,063 votes among the other eight schools in the finals. Amherst was the only district in the Central Wisconsin area among the 30 participating schools.
In a David vs. Goliath matchup, Amherst, with its 347 student high school enrollment, outvoted the other eight high schools, each of whom had an average enrollment of almost 1,200. In fact, Amherst garnered more than 42% of the total votes cast.
District Administrator Mike Richie said, “Truly incredible. The excitement and energy among our K-12 student body, faculty, parents, community, and alumni was off the charts. We were fully engaged in this contest because Heartland Farms Field and our outdoor athletic complex are truly a joint venture between the school district and community. More than half of the cost to build it was funded by private donations. We love our athletic complex, our school, and our community. Falcon Pride is flying high.”
Soon after the contest semifinals began in early October with Amherst announced among the entrants, local donors began calling the Amherst School District to pledge additional financial support to help drive voting interest. Tomorrow River School District Director of Marketing, Communications, and Fundraising Gregg Gutschow said this was an unexpected but welcomed surprise. “Within 24 hours from the start of the contest, we received a call from a Falcon Pride donor who wanted to make a $1,000 pledge. We posted something on our Falcon Pride Facebook page about the pledge, and it just snowballed from there. As the contest was concluding, I couldn’t keep up with the requests to donate. Donations continue to come in. We’re well over $20,000 right now and, given the generosity of this community, I really don’t know how high the number might go. Amherst is a special, one-of-a-kind place.”
The Heartland Farms Field football and soccer stadium was completed in September 2019 and is particularly unique in that it has no running track around the turf surface. It was one of only two such fields in the finals. This was done to provide an unparalleled experience for Falcon fans to be especially close to the football and soccer game action. This is just one of the distinguishing factors of the stadium, which also includes an impressive main gate and entry plaza as well as first-class press box all designed, built, and donated by Amherst’s Blenker Construction. In all, more than $2 million has been raised for the projects through private donations.
The multi-use MWSTS turf field allows the district to hold K-12 physical education classes, band and color guard practices, and graduation ceremonies as well as untold practices, games, and events on the surface annually. Prior to that, the old grass field was seldom used in order to protect the surface for late-season games.
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