Thursday, November 8, 2012
Potts Camp dedicates new facility to Oakley
The new athletic facility at Potts Camp School was officially named the Oakley Sportsplex in a pre-game ceremony October 26.
The recognition is in memory of Warrenne Oakley. She once owned the land that was donated to the school by her daughter, Mary Louise Merrill.
A plaque of appreciation was presented to Chuck Fowler, a long-time family friend. He later delivered the plaque to Mary Louise Merrill.
“Ms. Merrill (age 86) apologized for not being here tonight, but noted she was extremely excited about what has been done with the land for the students of Potts Camp,” said superintendent of education Jerry Moore, who made the presentation.
The large crowd on hand applauded the family for their generous donation and for making the beautiful sportsplex a reality.
Warrenne Oakley was the great-granddaughter of the first settler of Potts Camp, Col. Erasmus Potts.
Moore said the talk of bringing football back to Potts Camp began about 15 years ago, when he began working at the high school as an assistant principal under then superintendent Donnal Ash.
“Being a former football coach myself, I truthfully didn’t think starting a football team would be such a difficult task,” he said, “but, to be honest, I had always coached football at schools that already had a field, bleachers, a field house and a parking lot.”
Then the efforts stretched to finding land and funding.
“We even printed and sold Potts Camp football T-shirts to raise money and get people excited about a team,” Moore said. “We sold 500 T-shirts and made a profit of $2,500. We now felt we were on the right track to getting us a football team.”
But he said the hopes were dashed when they were unable to find land for the facility. Football at Potts Camp was put on hold for several years.
Then one night, he said Lela Hale, a teacher at Potts Camp School at the time, told Moore about some land across the railroad track that the school might be able to purchase for the field.
He immediately told then superintendent Don Randolph about the property.
“He said he actually knew Ms. Merrill and would try to find a number and call her – which he did,” Moore said.
“After the discussion, she said she’d have to think about it.”
Several months passed, and then Merrill, out of the blue, called the superintendent’s office.
“Much to our surprise, she told us she had decided that she wanted the students at Potts Camp School to have something that they could be proud of and that she had come to the decision that she would donate enough of the land to the Marshall County School District to build not only a football field but a full sportsplex for the students.
“It was at that time that we knew our dream had become reality.”
Football was revived at Potts Camp in the 2009 season. This year was the first for the Cardinals on the new home field. They finished 9-1 overall and 7-0 at the Oakley Sportsplex.
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