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Kick-off for Helias athletic complex within sight

Kick-off for Helias athletic complex within sight

August 13th, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Construction of Helias' new stadium and support infrastructure is nearly complete as the high school prepares to start classes next week. Electricians were running wire for lighting Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 while fence installers worked to enclose the buildings. Across the street from the athletic complex, concrete was being poured to form the outer edge of the parking lot that was torn out in order to construct the tunnel that connects the school grounds to the stadium.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

With less than a week left before the grand opening of the Crusader Athletic Complex, Helias High School President the Rev. Stephen Jones said his anticipation is a mix of nervousness and thankfulness.

While the Ray Hentges Football Stadium's field, facilities and seats for thousands of fans will be ready in time for Friday's opening game against Hannibal, the overall complex will not be completely finished by then.

"The reality is it's still going to be an active construction site," Jones said. He hopes the Lasallian Soccer Field will be done within a week or two of the opening football game and the Gerhardinger Tennis Pavilion facilities will be complete shortly thereafter. He imagined everything would be done by mid-September.

The ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the complex is planned for 4 p.m. Friday.

Between that and the blessing of the complex at 6:20 p.m., festivities will include Helias' Booster Barbecue.

Helias Director of Communications Sandy Hentges previously told the News Tribune there will be food, music and games.

Hentges said the barbecue will feature pulled pork, hot dogs and hamburgers; it will be the only part of the festivities that isn't free. She also said Central Dairy will have an ice cream truck there.

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Jones said the blessing of the complex will happen after the teams have headed to the locker rooms after warming up.

Helias' team probably won't see the blessing, he said: "Logistically, we're here to play a high school football game," and they don't want to interfere with the team's preparations in the final minutes.

Pastors of all local Catholic parishes have been invited, but "we didn't want to put any other extra burden on them" other than coming and enjoying the celebrations, so it will just be Jones giving the blessing. The ceremony will be a five- to seven-minute liturgy, including honors to the Hentges family.

Though the exact details were still being finalized Friday, Jones imagined there would be some moment of silence or prayer for the Feltrop family.

Troy Feltrop, 51, and his wife, Lisa, 44, died about three weeks ago in a carbon monoxide incident. Their 14-year-old daughter was hospitalized. Their son, Kyle, is a student at Helias and a member of the football team.

A GoFundMe account set up after the tragedy raised more than $50,000 for the family.

The Helias community will come together in other ways for the ceremonies Friday; every member of the school's faculty will be working the events in some capacity. While that's not the norm for Helias football games, Jones said it was easier to train teachers for the first game in the new stadium than a group of volunteers.

Now that the grand opening has nearly arrived after years of work, he said there's excitement and nerves, but Jones also has "a sense of thankfulness" for those many years of hard work and dedication from the community.

Ray Hentges is a former head football coach and teacher. He joined Helias in 1964 and retired in 2009. In the 34 years in between, he led the Crusaders to five state and 26 district titles; was an athletic director; coached golf and basketball; and taught religion, biology, life science and physical science.

Ray Hentges Football Stadium will have 2,864 seats. The overall Crusader complex will offer 225 parking spots on its north and east sides, in addition to 410 spots in the Helias school lots and an agreed-upon 100 spots in the Capital City Christian Church lot.

The Lasallian Soccer Field is named after the saint who founded the Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools and who is the patron saint of teachers.

The Gerhardinger Tennis Pavilion is named in honor of the foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.