“Friday Night Lights” is a movie and television show about a high school football team, but the phrase is often used to describe the community-building effect high school football can have on a community. On Friday nights in the fall, the whole community gathers at the field to watch the high school football team play under the lights. Like other non-football schools, Illiana has never really experienced this type of community outdoors. Sure we have great crowds for basketball games, but never for anything outside…until now. Through the amazing generosity of our community, we will be installing lights on the soccer field and track and beginning this fall, we will able to gather outdoors for events under the lights. Now let me be clear, we will not be playing football on those fields, but we can have “Friday Night Lights” Illiana-style through soccer, track, and hopefully even Praise Crowd events.
We are excited about what this means for athletics. First, in Indiana, both girls and boys soccer play in the fall. With four teams and two fields, lights allow the teams to practice and play more games on our campus as we can now extend game times past sunset. There have been more than a few soccer games over the years we couldn’t finish (or even start!) because of the lack of light. Second, this is the first time in Illiana’s history that we will have our own track and lights allow us more flexibility for hosting tracks meets. Also, many of our feeder school track programs have to take days off of school to go to other tracks to have meets. This will not be the case now if they want to use our facilities.
However, as cool and practically important as those things are, the most significant benefit of the lights is that they provide us another location where we can gather to build community. I have dreams of the community coming together to watch a soccer game or a track meet and then worshiping together at Praise Crowd outside under the lights and the stars. Community is not something that just happens; it takes work and effort to build. Sometimes you need to first develop the space so that community can be developed within that space. We have attempted to do that in the new building and now we are planning to do it outside as well. We look forward to you joining us in this space next fall. Thank you again to the generous community members that have helped to make this happen.
Reminder: The next new campus tour is this Saturday at 10:00 am. Please enter through the Calumet Ave. entrance. Due to the anticipated high number of participants, this tour will be run differently. We will have staff members at various locations around the building to talk about those areas. You will be able to wander the building at your own pace. Some areas will be clearly marked that they are off-limits due to construction. Please remember this is an active construction site. No children younger than 6th grade are allowed to participate. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear.