HOULKA – A community effort by the school, city, county and Wildcat boosters will soon bring a football field to Houlka.
The community and government entities gathered at noon Monday in a field just north of the baseball field at Community Center Park to dedicate the ground for a new football field. Former Houlka football players were there, too.
“We would get on the bus every Thursday or Friday to go play football somewhere,” said Dalton Baker, a member of the 2008 innaugural Houlka High School Football Team. “It was tough not having a home field.”
Baker said he learned discipline, teamwork, how to work hard and how to be patient playing football. He said the community has had to exhibit those traits to get this project going.
And it is a community project.
“We are a very small community and we have a wonderful school system and a wonderful football program,” said Gay Williams, President of the Wildcat Football Booster Club. “A lot of people have worked on this project and it looks like it is finally going to happen.”
Chickasaw County will help with dirt work, the City of Houlka owns the land and will help maintain it, Houlka schools will play on the field and boosters will man concessions and the gate.
“We will help with some hauling and we’ve got a couple of workers who have agreed to donate time after hours and on weekends to get the field leveled,” said Chickasaw County Dist. 4 Supervisor Jerry Hall. “We are also going to help them build a road from Washington Street to the west side of the field.”
Houlka Mayor Jimmy Kelly said the city will own the property and maintain it.
“This is a good example of how government can work together to make something good happen,” said Kelly. “I can’t tell you when we will have it ready, but this is a big first step and we are ready to go to work.”
The site off of Highway 32 was first measured and staked off for a football field by the late Jimbo Byars several years ago.
“The site moved east at one time but it came back here,” said Chickasaw County School Board member Kenneth Linton. “There is less dirt work to be done here and they will be able to use the city concession stand and there are already light poles with electricity nearby.”
The field will run east and west and a name for the facility has not been determined.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association requires both a perimeter fence around the property and a fence around the field. Bleachers will have to be brought in, but Wildcats will also be allowed to bring folding chairs and blankets.
“We’ve had a football program for six years and this will do a lot our community,” said Chickasaw County Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums. “We will look for ways to do more out here when we can.”
Houlka currently plays home football games at Okolona, but must play on Thursday night.
“I can’t wait until the first game on this field,” said Baker. “It will mean a lot to me and everyone who has ever been a (Houlka) Wildcat.”
The Wildcat football team is now 2-3 on the year after beating Vardaman 59-13 Friday night in Vardaman. The Wildcats have six more football games and hope the field will be ready by next fall.