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Heritage Hunt: The Old Athletic Field 

Geneseo Maple Leafs Track Meet 1910.jpg

Despite the massive success the Maple Leafs have had in football to this day, in the early 1900s sports were not seen as a priority for local youth.  By the 1920s most citizens had begun to see a need for a designated location to host the towns athletic events,which began the search for property to fit this purpose.  Those who backed the purchasing of land for an athletic field included the Board of Education under the leadership of its then president, Dr. Arthur Parsons.  In 1926 the Board of Education voted to put money down on a site to build the home field for the school’s football and track teams.  

 

Before the purchase of the land used for the Old Athletic Field, the football team would practice and play on a field they set up in Shaw’s pasture, and the track team would practice in the city park and run their meets at other schools’ tracks.  

 

Part of the creation of the athletic field involved a contest sponsored by the school’s booster club that allowed local high school students to design the layout of the athletic field, which had to include the football field, track, bleachers and landscaping.  The winning student’s plan would be getting a prize of $5, which would be worth roughly $85 today.  

 

The official dedication of the football field was set for Armistice Day 1927, and on November 11 the team and school administration marched onto the new field, falling in line behind the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps that rainy afternoon.  Geneseo ended up taking down Princeton in a 20-12 victory, celebrating their first win at the new football field and second undefeated season as a team.  

 

The Old Athletic Field is also famous around the area as Ronald Reagan played for the Dixon Devils in his youth, and is said to have gone onto the field when they came into town to play against Geneseo in the 1920s.  

 

Today, the Old Athletic Field is still utilized by the community, hosting youth football games and other activities like tennis and golf, as well as being open for public use to walk the track, play on the playground, or just enjoy the weather on the lawn.  After serving the schools for many years, the athletic field became part of the Geneseo Park District on June 1, 2000.   This fields symbolizes not only a rich past of sports, but the future of them within Geneseo as well. 

All information stated has been collected from articles of the Geneseo Republic, obtained through the Geneseo Public Library District Digital Archives, as well as the official Geneseo Park District website.  To learn more about this location yourself, check out these articles: 

Fields of dreams!: Gridirons hold vast history in Geneseo - Geneseo Republic (2000)

Needing a place for sports, Athletic Field was built - Geneseo Republic (2015)

Athletic Field Open to All Residents - Geneseo Park District 

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