|By Danielle Paine|
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW Let there be light.
Thanks to the efforts of some parents and coaches, there are new lights to illuminate the practice field of town football teams. Two light poles now tower 22 feet over the field with four 400 watt lamps to keep the many night practices bright.
Parents recently contacted Reminder Publications about this July project, but more importantly to recognize the hard work of Coaches Bob Ostrander and Bob Lipp who granted this wish for the teams.
"Once you start coaching you just want to do what you can do to help your kid as well as the kids that come behind them," Lipp said about the project.
Ostrander, wanting a permenant solution to dark practices for the fast-growing league, applied for and received a grant from the National Football League's Players Association. The money paid for about 50 percent of the actual lights while fundraising efforts by parents covered the rest.
Lipp, owner of RFL Electric Inc. of Longmeadow, spent one month doing free labor to wire the lights, install the poles and to the required dig trenches for power cables.
"It made a huge difference," Ostrander said. "It's as much a safety thing as anything and it has also made a huge difference in our ability to put together the safest program that we could for the kids."
Ostrander explained that when he first began with the league, it was a much smaller program and practices could fit within small spots on the High School's grounds. After years of expanding and now needing the dim lower field, coaches began renting generator lights for each season, a costly and temporary solution.
"We're constantly working with the high school and the town to try to improve things," Ostrander said. "We are the largest program in the league for this region and we lead the league in kids that return the following year, I think that is a testament to the program."