A legacy as old as Fort Osage High School itself will no longer be a part of the storied Indians football program after the 2017 season.
The grass field that was the home to so many exciting contests, will go the way of dinosaurs, typewriters and VHS tapes as coach Brock Bult’s squad will open the 2018 season playing on artificial turf.
“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 activities director Ryan 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.”
The synthetic turf was part of a successful $11.37 million bond issue, which did not increase the district’s debt service tax levy.
The bond issue will 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, a new track, upgrades to the stadium and the turf.
During his career at Fort Osage, which culminated two years ago with a Class 5 state championship win, Schartz used the Indians’ grass field as motivation for his teams.
“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.”
“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, so we’ll enjoy playing on grass this season and get ready for turf next year.
“But there was something special about looking out at that grass field. It will be special for one more season.”
Fort Osage will also have a new eight-lane track, which means they can now host larger track meets.
“That was an important part of the bond issue,” Schartz said. “We’re going to have a top notch football and track facility, and we can’t wait to get going on it.
“We’re in the bidding process right now and have no real time table as to when we will get started.”