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It was a beautiful Friday night in northwest Ohio where the temperatures hovered around 77-78 degrees before the sun started to set in tiny Liberty Center. Not to get all mushy on a Saturday morning, but something beautiful took place Friday night in the tiny village of Liberty Center (pop. 1,180) where field turf is being installed at the high school football field.
Locals came out to watch the installation of the field turf. Sun setting. Incredible temperatures. Friday night in Ohio. You get some serious Field of Dreams vibes from the photo tweeted out by the Liberty Center football Twitter account that joked they should’ve charged admission to fans who wanted to witness history in this village 35 miles west of Toledo.
Community watching field turf get installed on a Friday night! Should have charged admission. 🏈 pic.twitter.com/EbwFf4H3LV
— LC Football (@LCtigerfootball) April 9, 2021
That’s why you have field turf installation serving as entertainment on a Friday night. I grew up in a town of 5,500 that had two traffic lights for the longest time. It was the type of town where people sat on their front porches and watched cars go by for entertainment. You sat out out front to see who was out and about. If a garage door was open, that meant stop by for a beer.
That’s the type of village we’re talking about here. Just hard-working folks trying to raise families in small-town America sucking down the final remnants of a beautiful Friday evening while northwest Ohio’s Maumee Bay Turf company lays down turf for the 2022 football season. Football is big business in Liberty Center. The school has a state title (1997) on its resume and multiple trips to the state tournament. Football is life here.
How does a town of just 1,200 or so install field turf that has a base price of $750,000? Through a donation from Kip Kern who passed away days before the 2020 season. He was 94. “Liberty Center meant everything,” Kip’s wife, Cecelia, told a Toledo news channel after his death. “We went to 500 straight games.” The couple was married 72 years and both went to Liberty Center High School. The only time they spent apart since meeting in high school was when Kip was shipped off to World War II as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne.
The legend goes that Kip once took his boys on a football Friday to visit their new baby sister at the hospital only to be told by Cecelia to get moving. There was a game to attend.
“I just said, ‘Go, go, go, go! Go and root for Liberty Center,'” said Cecelia. “We were Liberty Center people.”
Kip’s family decided the best way to honor the family patriarch was to pay for the new field and keep alive the memory of a man so dear to the community. So Friday night the locals came out as the sun set to see what Kip left behind. They’ll call it ‘Kip Kern Field’ and the stories of Liberty Center’s biggest supporter will continue to be passed down to future generations.
“It is our privilege to do this in Kip’s name, as we feel like he was the ultimate supporter of the student-athlete and truly wanted to see the kids succeed not only in sports, but in life,” grandson Keith Kern said about the donation.
Turf is beginning to be laid at Liberty Center! What a great job @maumeebayturf has done! Excited for the next couple weeks of progress. #GoTigers pic.twitter.com/9flddtQ0IO
— Liberty Center Athletics (@LCAthleticDept) April 9, 2021
🗓Day 4 in Tiger Country 🐅. ✅Import 3500 tons stone
✅form 1400 lineal feet curb @LCHS_LadyTigers @Supt_LC @LynnGroll_TDPub @LCAthleticDept @lctigerhoops @northwestohioal @LCtigerfootball pic.twitter.com/9vPqEZhWEz
— Maumee Bay Turf (@maumeebayturf) April 1, 2021
10 CommentsLeave a Reply
Wonderful. Sports is unifying. All the multi-billioniares on the pro side need to take notice. Relearn and be more humble.
Beautiful story, Joe.
Beautiful people, Kip and Cecelia.
It’s a wonderful life, if you remember what’s important.
Glad you liked it, Rick.
Very Cool part of Ohio.
I pick up Defiance radio when I drive through Fort Wayne – it’s obvious those folks are intelligent up there.
Thank you for saying it, Jim. I’m about 15 miles from this town so I’m going to take this compliment from you!
Our greatest generation, still leading by example.
Dammit, getting really dusty in here all of the sudden…
The family cemetery is just a few miles from there. Dad is there, Mom will be one day. Very special area, near and dear to my heart. Ohio high school football takes a backseat to no state for passion and pride. Fight on Tigers.
Tremendous story. Every kid who steps on that field should know that man’s lifestory.