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Letter to the Editor: A parent's reflections on the 'turf'

October 09, 2013 - Editor's Note: The following letter was penned in November 2012, but it was just recently e-mailed to the Leader.

The fall football and soccer seasons are over. Oxford Football team's second season on their new blue turf was terrific. Coach Rowley and his boys made it to the playoffs!

The marching band played beautifully and cheerleaders rallied the crowd. Parents and fans alike watched these kids with pride filled eyes play on the new turf.  I am writing to tell a story about another group of students connected to turf that speaks volumes about the character of Oxford kids.

 My husband Mark and I are members of the "Turf Committee." This past fall we built a Blue & Yellow Turf Booth decorated with left-over blue turf and topped it off with a large Wildcat Paw print.  We set the booth up at the front of stadium and "worked" the OHS Football home games and Oxford Jr. Wildcat games. The initial idea was that folks would have a place to come and talk with committee members, ask questions, give feedback, make donations etc. I also made Turf Hats in a Mohawk-style for fans to purchase with the proceeds to benefit "The Turf." The hats were a hit. Due to increased demand I continued making them all season long. 

The entire Turf Booth project was a lot of fun.  It did raise money (even some opposing team parents gave)! And, it did give the community an avenue to communicate about the Turf project.

 However, it wasn't the adult interaction or the money collected from Turf hats sales that made an impression on me. The kids who came to watch the game did something totally unexpected. They gave money to pay the turf debt! And they were thrilled to do it. It gave them a chance to have a "voice". Their resounding message was "We love our new turf!" They donated money over and over each week! 

My husband and I would chat with them about the fact that their donation made them part of a big family of Oxford people who helped pay for the Turf. And their overwhelming response was – "we are "happy to help"! Additionally, manyof them knew the "turf" background story. They asked if the "Dads" were "really gonna lose their homes." I was very moved by their concern and giving spirit.

 I am not originally from Oxford…we moved here over 20 years ago. I have come to understand that Oxford is a great place to live and raise kids. However, the whole "Turf" experience has reinforced that fact in my mind. The kids that I met this fall told me…they love Oxford - the town, their school and the Turf!  It is common knowledge that "the Turf" has been a source for debate among the adults, but I am here to tell you that it has been a positive influence on the students. They proved it to us each week with continuous support whether it was through a donation or verbal Wildcat spirit! Throughout my time spent at the "Turf Booth" with these kids, I have often thought "I wish someone was filming this…their parents and educators would be so proud"!

 In closing, thanks for giving me an avenue to speak on the kids' behalf, particularly in a day and age where the news is often so negative. This is a heartwarming story that I am proud to have been a part of.  The kids who donated were thanked, but I want to give something back to them. I also wish to tell their parents, Oxford Educators and the community that Oxford students did something great this past fall! They supported the Turf, because they have HEART. I want to tell them once again – "Way to go Wildcats! It really is your OXFORD BLUE TURF!"

Kathy Stepek


P.S. The 2013 football season is well-underway. The Turf Booth is again set up at each home game. And I am proud to say that the kids continue to "give" every week whether via a donation, purchase of a Turf Hat or simply by showing their enthusiastic Wildcat school spirit.

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