The only way there could be more activity going on at the new Fort Osage High School sports complex would be if coach Brock Bult’s Indians were playing host to Raytown South in the Aug. 24 season opener for each school.
A new artificial turf field is one of the highlights of the project that is part of a successful $11.37 million bond issue, which did not increase the district’s debt service tax levy.
Along with the new turf will be an eight-lane track, bleachers on both sides of the stadium, new restrooms and concession areas, a new scoreboard and press box.
In fact, the modular press box was being delivered while activities director Ryan Schartz was checking out the project, which is right on schedule for that 2018 football opener on Aug. 24.
“It’s pretty cool, everything that’s going on out here,” said Schartz, who shot a video tape of the arrival of the press box on the back of a semi that drove across the football practice field to the west side of the stadium.
“How about that press box?” he asked. “It’s so much bigger and nicer than the one we had. We’re making some big changes out here and we’re all excited.”
A legacy as old as Fort Osage High School itself – the legendary grass field – will no longer be a part of the storied Indians football program as Bult’s team will now play on artificial turf.
“That’s OK,” Bult said. “We liked the grass. We were the only school in the metro area that played on grass, but with this turf, we can do so many things that will benefit everyone from the band to our football team.”
“We have such a great superintendent in Dr. (Jason) Snodgrass, and he knew the impact synthetic turf would have on all aspects of the programs at Fort Osage – from the marching band and PE classes to the football and soccer teams,” said Schartz, the former head coach of the football team. “It’s for the greater good, and it can have an impact in so many ways 24/7. I think it will have the biggest benefit for the band – they can practice out there whenever they want. And it will have a big benefit for our track and soccer teams, and of course, Brock’s football team.”
Funds from the bond issue will also be used to fund several additions or improvements to facilities across the district, including a new early childhood center, which will be next to Elm Grove Elementary.
While Schartz marvels at the new turf field, which features a stylized “INDIANS” script at the 50-yard line, he enjoyed lining up against opponents on natural grass.
“It’s hard to say if it gave us any advantage,” Schartz said, “but you better believe I made our kids feel like it was an advantage – a big advantage. But you’d see teams come to our place, start kicking around on the natural grass and wonder if we just poked the bear.
“And our maintenance crew did such an amazing job, and we practiced on the field next to the stadium. So every Friday night it was like playing on a golf course – it was beautiful.”
Bult agreed that it had an effect on opposing teams.
“It was always interesting to see the reaction to visiting teams when they stepped off the bus and walked out on the grass field,” Bult said. “All the schools had turf except us, and I think we used it as an advantage, but we’re all excited playing in our new stadium this season.”
Because of the construction, the Indians boys and girls track teams could not practice at the high school this spring. They improvised in the hallways and went to other schools to practice.
“We’re going to invite all our senior track kids back for a special night, because they really made a special sacrifice because of the construction,” Schartz said. “And they had a great season. I never heard a complaint from any of our coaches or track kids. They knew we were doing something to make Fort Osage a better place and they still went out and competed and had a great track season.”