Football Focus: Anatomy of Organizing a Night Game with Portable Lights | Sports


It’s the story of a Friday night football game, and how it all happened.

But there is so much so much more than that. This is the story of how it happened.

“Something like this has never happened on our school campus before, and we really wanted to make it a reality,” said the athletic director of Beverly High. Dan Keefe. “Everything had to go perfectly for us to do this… and despite a few obstacles, we did. “

The genesis of the idea came in late summer, when Keefe and the director of Beverly High Betty taylor were kicking around some ideas. Why not, they agreed, try to do something special this fall after what had been an incredibly trying 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Initially, the idea was to do something at Hurd Stadium and make one of the football games an event. A day or two later, the two directors took it a step further – what could they do that would involve Following high school teams, not just football?

Jordan Irvine (23) and the Beverly Panthers beat Danvers’ Colin Kelter (12) Aris Xerras (81) and the Falcons at home last spring; now they want to start over, this time playing under temporary lights at Forti Field on Friday night.

This is how the plan was conceived: a two-day event on the high school campus itself that would involve the boys and girls soccer teams, the field hockey team and the soccer team. All four teams would play on the newly installed turf at Forti Field with temporary lights in place. Men’s soccer (4:30 p.m.) and women’s soccer (7:00 p.m.) would be played on Thursday, October 7; field hockey (4:30 p.m.) and football (7:15 p.m.) would do it the following night.

Beverly has played a handful of nighttime football games in the past at Hurd Stadium, their traditional home ground. But the chain link fence that surrounds the venerable and beloved pitch would not work for football or field hockey games, not to mention the fact that the pitch is wider in those two sports than it is for football. The decision was therefore made to hold the four games directly on the school grounds.

“Having two soccer games on Thursday, then a field hockey game leading up to a Friday night soccer game, great on campus… we felt like we really had something,” Keefe said.

The AD got to work by contacting the athletic directors of the schools where the Panthers would play on these two proposed dates. Swampscott Kelly farley agreed to have their college football teams play in Beverly on the same day. The Panther girls take this opportunity to host their senior party, which makes a special occasion even more memorable. (The two schools will play again on Monday in Swampscott, with the boys playing under the lights in that one).

Mike BierwirthLynnfield’s DA gave the green light for his Pioneer field hockey team to face the Panthers on Friday in their own senior game at 4:30 pm Athletic Director of Danvers High School Andy Saint-Pierre does the same for Friday’s football game.

“No DA likes to lose a home game; it’s a big request, ”admitted Keefe. “The fact that everyone was ready to welcome us for this event was very gracious. “


Owen Gasinowksi is a double threat for Danvers, leading the Blues and Whites in receptions and receiving yards while also placing the club second in the rush run.

JAIME CAMPOS / Staff archive photo

Keefe reached out to food trucks that could sell their wares on both nights, and two Beverly companies stepped up: Joe’s On A Roll (owned and operated Nicki birarelli) and Biscuit ‘UR’ with Butter. Beverly Bootstraps said they will be doing a food drive on both evenings, asking for non-perishable items such as Peanut Butter, Canned Pasta, Macaroni & Cheese, Canned Veg, Diapers / Pull-Ups ( sizes 2 to 6), tuna, cooking oils and sprays, canned tuna and soup that can help fill pantry shelves.

The BHS Band will also sell food products. Another high school group, the Birthday Wishes Club, will be selling glow sticks and glow necklaces to make birthday boxes for homeless children.

Toys For Tots fundraising raffle was hosted by Beverly’s Henri witham. Keefe a Todd Angilly, who sings the national anthem at home games for the Boston Bruins, coming in to sing it ahead of Friday’s soccer game, and BHS will perform their traditional halftime show. Keefe even set up a vaccination clinic for Friday night.

It was preparing to become a full community event for and hosted by the people of The Garden City.

The biggest challenge was finding someone who could hire the lights. Keefe spent a few days burning the phones before getting confirmation from a South Shore company. The school signed an agreement with the company and everything went well.

Until it doesn’t.

Early last week, Keefe got a call from the company saying there had been a mistake and they would not be able to honor their commitment.

Panic set in.

“At that point, we didn’t realistically know if we would be able to pull it off,” Keefe admitted. “We gave ourselves until Wednesday noon and if we did not have a solution at that time, we would have to cancel everything.

Fortunately, help came to the rescue. Scott Connolly, the athletic director of Salem High, told Keefe he has three light towers he can borrow. St. Peter said they had two that could also be used. Taylor then contacted Mike collins, the commissioner of utilities and engineering in Beverly, and he was able to get eight more light towers from a contractor he knew – at 10 a.m. that Wednesday.

Ten light towers will be lined up around the grounds while the other three will be placed around the campus to illuminate the path to and from the grounds. There is ample space for parking and for fans to watch the games, either on the sloping grass that overlooks the complex (similar to the hill that many fans sit on when in Hurd ); outside the fence surrounding Forti Field, or even along Herrick Street, where fans get a full view of the entire pitch.

Keefe admitted that one of the biggest supporters of this event was the Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Charochak, who told her she could have footed the South Shore Company lights bill if they hadn’t backed down.

“All the feedback we’ve received from the kids, the coaches, the townspeople… it’s pretty good,” said Keefe, who thanked the Beverly High child care staff for playing such a big part in making it happen. of this dream. “It was touch and go for a while… but now we’re finally getting there, and that’s a good thing for all the kids involved.”


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