Donor funds new turf

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The field at T.J. Mills Stadium is going to have a very different look in a few months. The Mark A. Chapman Foundation donated a check for $1 million to install a new turf field to be named after Chapman in T.J. Mills Stadium.

The foundation is named after the late Mark Chapman and has made several donations to the Sealy ISD in the past and continues to award scholarships through Sealy and other high schools as well. He also has donated generously to Kansas State, his alma mater, to athletic and academic facilities.

Chapman’s wife Cheryl Mellenthin continues to run the foundation and attended the Sealy ISD schoolboard meeting to present the check to superintendent Sheryl Moore, schoolboard president Ryan Reichardt and athletic director Shane Mobley. 

“We will likely never see a gift of this magnitude again in our lifetimes,” Reichardt said when introducing Mellenthin. “To help out our kids like this and really the community as a whole is just incredible.” 

The Sealy ISD will begin installing the field after the Tigers football season is finished and hopes to have it completed by February. Sheryl Moore said the schoolboard has been talking with several different turf companies over the past few months and have narrowed it down to four final candidates.

Part of the renovation will be expanding the high jump area behind one of the end zones to create additional high-jump pits. 

Moore said the board will choose who to award the contract to on Nov. 1. She said she first heard about the donation when  Reichardt called her to tell the news. 

“My initial reaction was just sincere appreciation,” Moore said. “Time and time again people in this community just does amazing things for the kids and the schools and it’s just amazing to me.” 

Moore said the turf also opens up numerous possibilities to host other events for the school like graduation. It also opens up the possibility of other schools around the area to come to Sealy for playoff games in the future which Moore said could have significant impacts around the town and not just the high school. 

“We’re strategically located right here off I-10 so it could really have an economic boom on our community,” Moore said. “They would stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and help everyone out.” 

Having a turf also saves the Sealy ISD money since they don’t have to pay workers overtime to care for the field and constantly repainting the field and other tedious tasks normally associated with having a grass field. 

Moore said this will allow the school to funnel that money back into the school system rather than spending it on the field. Another part of the donation the school board was happy about was the sheer size of it.

“Not a single dime of the education fund or tax dollars will be going towards this field, it’s all coming out of the donation,” Moore said.

Athletic director Shane Mobley said the field will help the team in terms of being healthier on their legs but also less game delays. 

“There is so much that we’re going to be able to do that you just can’t do on grass because you don’t have to worry about rain anymore and it’s such a blessing,” Mobley said.

Turf fields have pipes built under them that allow rainwater to drain more quickly making prolonged flooding virtually impossible. 

So when the spring sports begin playing again, not only will some be playing at T.J. Mills Stadium but they will also be playing on Mark A. Chapman Field. 

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