View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 8/29

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 29, 2013 - 8:45 AM

If you haven’t driven by the old Southeast High School in Kansas City, Mo. in a while, you should get in your car and head to Swope Park. The new Kansas City Missouri School District football stadium is almost finished and it is changing more than just a football field.
For the first time in decades the Kansas City School District will have a football facility that puts it on par with suburban schools on both sides of the state line. While it’s not a palace like Shawnee Mission North or Staley, it is a well-done facility that will be used by all six high schools.
The stadium sits on the north side of the Afrikan Centered College Prep campus (formerly Southeast High School) and features a new turf field, new stands on both sides, new track, new concession stands, new bathrooms and a new field house with locker facilities.
It’s a facility that brings pride to all involved. It’s easy to see the look on the players, coaches and fans faces when they walk into a great football stadium. It’s community pride, it’s everything Friday night should be: shiny stadium, bright lights and good football.
Football programs are made up of many things. You need committed players, smart engaged coaches, supportive administration, good facilities and a community that backs, not undermines the team on the field. Kansas City Missouri’s schools have long struggled to find those pieces but the new stadium could be the first step.
Last season we saw East and Northeast not only win games but earn high seeds in the district postseason tournament. Even though their seasons ended in the first round, the work of those programs showed that things were moving in the right direction in Kansas City.
The next steps are there for the district. Hire and keep good coaches and give them the tools like assistant coaches and training to succeed is the next step. Coaches shouldn’t be looking over their shoulder each year wondering if they will have a job past the day the players turn in their uniforms. That support is critical to allow coaching staffs to maintain relationships with their players year round. Those relationships are necessary everywhere but could be crucial in the lives of some of the young men in the Kansas City Missouri School District.
It’s exciting to see this first step of the new stadium and I hope it continues. Kansas City football needs the Interscholastic League to be a viable and competitive group of teams. Hopefully the pride of the new home field will spill over to every phase of the game at Southwest, Lincoln College Prep, AC Prep, Northeast, Kansas City Central and East. The players there deserve a chance to make themselves into the best students and athletes possible and hopefully they are taking the first step.