George Guido: Leechburg stadium renovation is good news for soccer players, neighbors

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Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 2:56 PM


The 75th football season at Leechburg’s Veterans Memorial Stadium promises to be a special one.

Despite all the rain this past week, a construction project is on track to have artificial turf installed in time for Leechburg’s football home opener Sept. 10 against Brentwood.

It’s part of a $1.1 million upgrade at one of the Alle-Kiski Valley’s iconic sports venues.

The Leechburg facility, opened in 1947, is tied with Valley’s Memorial Stadium as the area’s third-oldest stadium behind Apollo’s Owens Field and Springdale’s Veterans Memorial Field.

Also, Leechburg’s boys soccer team will also have a place to call home this season after playing at Northmoreland Park the past two seasons. The program’s co-op with Apollo-Ridge will be in its third season.

Leechburg Area School District Superintendent Tiffany Nix also indicated the girls soccer co-op with Apollo-Ridge may see some action on the new turf this fall.

An eighth-mile track is also being installed adjacent to the football field. While high school tracks are commonly a quarter-mile, the Blue Devils will at least get to practice at home.

What’s interesting about the Leechburg turf installation is that underground retention chambers are being created to hold stormwater runoff. Neighbors of the stadium, located near the Leechburg-Gilpin Township line, expressed concern that runoff could threaten their properties.

The chambers will release water periodically.

AXIS Architecture of Monroeville handled the design.

If all goes on schedule, the football team will take the field for practice Aug. 22.

Once the season opens, Knoch, Springdale, Apollo-Ridge and Riverview will be the only A-K schools playing on natural grass.

CMU announces hall class

Two local sports figures now in the coaching ranks will be part of Carnegie Mellon University’s second sports hall of fame induction class in November.

Melissa Baustert Schaefer was a four-time All-American in track and field for the Tartans, helping the school to its first NCAA berth in 1995. Schaefer was also a four-year runner for the CMU cross country team.

She received 17 All-University Athletic Association honors in track and field and won seven UAA titles, along with being a three-time UAA honoree in cross country.

Schaefer is now the cross country coach at Freeport. She was inducted into the Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

St. Joseph High School boys basketball coach Hart Coleman will also be honored for his distinguished playing career at CMU.

He finished his four-year career as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 204. Coleman was the third all-time career scorer for the Tartans when he graduated in 1988 with 1,246 points. He now ranks sixth in that category and remains the only player in school history to record more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 blocks.

Coleman also coached at Plum.

Another familiar figure in the 12-member induction class will be coach Chuck Klausing.

A posthumous inductee, Klausing coached CMU football for 10 seasons (1976-85) and compiled an incredible 77-15-2 record, winning six Presidents Athletic Conference titles.

The induction banquet Nov. 6 will coincide with CMU’s homecoming weekend. The 12 will be introduced at halftime during the Tartans game with Washington & Jefferson earlier that day.

Getting the Nates right

In last week’s column that chronicled Burrell’s rise to the 2001 PIAA Class AA title game, the player who scored the winning run in the team’s first-round game against Harbor Creek was Nate George, not Nate Errico.

The source for that correction was George himself, who added that he still has scars on his elbows from crossing home plate in the 1-0 victory.

Since the statute of limitations has run out, George also confessed that he leaned into a pitch from all-stater Ben Orengia to get the rally started.

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