NLS’ Pederson Field top in state in WCCO poll
By Tom Larson
The New London-Spicer football team is among the best in the state in Class AAA this season.
Now, the Wildcats’ home field has been ranked the “Best in Minnesota,” according to a WCCO TV poll.
Matt Brickman, host of WCCO’s “Best in Minnesota” program, will be in New London on Wednesday, prior to the Wildcats’ game against St. Peter, to film a segment on Pederson Field.
NLS fans and followers voted in the recent “Best in Minnesota” poll, “Best High School Football Field in Minnesota.” Their voting efforts won the honor for Pederson Field.
“It’s kind of fun,” said NLS Athletic Director John Vraa. “It shows people have a lot of pride in it.”
While the “Best in Minnesota” honor is a popularity contest, the NLS community has put in the time and effort to earn the victory.
In 2004, fathers began volunteering to paint the field on Wednesdays before Friday game nights. The list of volunteers numbered 10 at the outset and has since grown to 50 to 60. On an average Wednesday, about 35 to 40 fathers show up to work, said crew member Tom Tengwall.
End zone and midfield painting templates are chosen by a committee before the start of each football season. This year’s midfield logo is the 60-foot long “Eye of the Wildcat.”
Mowing crews cut and vacuum the field, push mowers are set lower for the lines and hashmarks, and 12 spray wands are used. The lines painting is done with ropes to ensure a straight lines, Tengwall said, adding that four area communities have visited to make observations and gather information.
The team also uses state-of-the-art public address equipment and the press box features the “Wildcat Touchdown Suite,” complete with leather chairs and a flat screen TV showing video of the game. The suite is auctioned off for each game during the Wildcat Open golf tournament before the season.
The crews’ work this week will be complicated. Rain fell during Friday’s game and more rain fell the last few days. The crew will be out early afternoon today to try and dry the field and paint.
Vraa said the field will look good, no matter what, thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and those who voted in the “Best of Minnesota” poll.
“It’s about who’s got the enthusiasm to get out there and do it,” Vraa said, “and we got the votes.”