By Patty La Bella
As a student at Etiwanda High School in the mid-1990s, Kevin Davis spent his winters dreaming about playing football for the Eagles at their home stadium. Davis did play for the Eagles until he graduated in 1997, then began a teaching and coaching career that eventually led him back at Etiwanda High School. After all these years, that dream of playing at an Eagles home stadium only existed in his imagination – until now.
Etiwanda High School opened in 1983, without a stadium. In fact, only half of the eight high schools in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District (CJUHSD) had stadiums. That changes this year when the remaining high schools will open the football season with home fields. Besides Etiwanda, the other high schools include Alta Loma, Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga.
“There has always been talk of a new stadium, it just never seemed like it was going to happen,” says Davis, who is now the head coach of the Eagles varsity football team. “We’ve been practicing in the new stadium since April and during practice I would look around and it just seemed very surreal. It wasn’t until the opening ceremony that I realized, Wow – this is real. It’s been a long time coming.”
In past years, the Eagles played home games at Chaffey College or at other available high schools in the district. In recent years, the Eagles played their home games at Colony High School, which on a map doesn’t appear too far away. However, driving south on the 15 Freeway on a Friday night was always brutal for Etiwanda supporters.
“Despite that drive, our support has always been huge,” adds Davis, who also played collegiality at Mt. SAC and University of San Diego. “Now, I can only imagine the support we’ll have playing a Friday night game in our own backyard. Our support is going to blow up even bigger!”
And there will be plenty of room for those huge crowds. Eagles Stadium will seat 5,000 fans (Colony, and the older stadiums in the district, seat only 4,000). This includes a freestanding 3,000-seat home side on the west side of the field and a 2,000-seat visitor grandstand on the east side along the property’s edge.
Other stadium features include an artificial field, nine lane synthetic track, field lighting, press box, scoreboard and P.A. system. Fans will also enjoy a welcoming 7,000-square foot entry into the stadium, extra large restrooms, ticket booth, and concession stand. For the athletes and staff, the stadium provides an adjoining team room, staff offices and a full weight room.
Cool little details like the alternating colors on the turf were chosen by Davis and his staff, who were also invited to put their own personal touches into the design. All the new stadiums in the district involved coaches’ input, helping to make each one different and keeping them from looking like cookie-cutter replicas of one another.
The new stadium may be getting all the hype, but the construction didn’t end there. The entire Etiwanda northern athletic field tier has been completely reworked. This includes tennis courts and basketball courts, as well as baseball, softball and practice fields. To help accommodate the added crowds, there’s also a new 200-stall parking lot at the southeast corner of the campus, just west of Building A.
While the home games are going to be epic, the impact reaches even further. For years, the Eagles football team would have to search for places to practice, opting for random parks, the school’s baseball field or even the gym. “We practiced without a goal post – the kids would try to measure out the distances,” adds Davis, whose excitement is hard to hide. “As great as it’s going to be for home games, I can already see the change in practice because we actually have hash marks. Oh man, what a difference!”
For the Eagles varsity football team’s first home game (a heated rivalry versus Summit High School) Davis was determined to be completely dialed in and focused on the game, but adds, “I hope I remember to take a moment to look back and then take it all in for a second. As a former player, I’m just really blessed that I’m the one who gets to open this stadium. How lucky am I? Who says dreams don’t come true?”
Join in celebrating Eagle Stadium’s inaugural season by attending a home game! Check out the 2016 Etiwanda Eagles schedule at MaxPreps.com.