Community cooperation in L’Anse

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to cover a playoff football game between Calumet and Charlevoix High School, and was very impressed by the athletic facility at the downstate school.

The complex was laid out in such a way that the football, baseball, softball and soccer fields were all within easy viewing distance. There was also a nice track nearby.

The L’Anse Sports Complex, while it still requires some work, will essentially feature the same sort of layout. And it already has a walking trail in use.

Just a year ago, the fate of the complex was uncertain, to say the least.

But members of the L’Anse community rolled up their sleeves and put together a noteworthy achievement.

Former L’Anse football coach Jerry Bugni, who spearheaded a grassroots committee to replace Meadowbrook Field a few years ago, said local contractors contributed much.

“We didn’t have any large benefactors like they had in Baraga,” Bugni pointed out. “But a lot of people gave us their equipment, labor and expertise.”

Baraga’s Osterman Athletic Complex was constructed a few years ago with former BHS alum Russ Osterman and his wife Louise providing a large chunk of the financing.

Old Meadowbrook Field served its purpose for many seasons, but it had clearly seen better days.

Any heavy rains posed a threat for many years to put the field underwater. On at least two occasions, it did just that.

A flood in mid-July of 1968 not only washed out the field, it destroyed a good portion of downtown L’Anse.

Bugni – just beginning his coaching career – was forced to use a field outside of Pequaming for home games that season.

“It was basically just a hayfield,” he recalled. “But we stuck up a couple of goalposts and finished the season.”

The new L’Anse football field will be ready for the Aug. 28 home opener against Houghton. It marks a big landmark for the community, according to current football coach Mark Leaf.

“It’s a testament to this community what hard work and cooperation can do,” he said.

By the way, there’s also a brand new press box at the facility that will provide plenty of space for the media, who in the past had to shoulder each other out of the way to get their jobs done.

Take my word, that is much appreciated …