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Jessieville dedicates field repaired after January tornado

by Lance Brownfield | August 27, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.
Legendary Jessieville coach Don Phillips, left, school board member Ashley Huneycutt, Superintendent Melissa Speers, Athletic Director Jamie Saveall and school board president David Morrow stand on Phillips Field during the dedication of the new turf and remodeled stadium Friday. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record

JESSIEVILLE -- After a tornado ripped through Jessieville at the beginning of the year, the Lions were able to play their opening game of the season on their own field, recently repaired.

The Jan. 2 tornado destroyed much of Phillips Field including stadium lights, bleachers, the scoreboard and areas of turf. But not the Lions' spirit.

Jessieville fans braved the heat for a pre-game field dedication ceremony at 7:30, pushed back an hour as the game was delayed due to high temperatures Friday.

Former Jessieville coach Don Phillips, the namesake for the field, said a special prayer for the town and the team.

"Whenever we were thinking who could come out here and put a blessing on this field and dedicate it the right way, it was Don Phillips," Jessieville Athletic Director Jamie Saveall said.

Saveall included that he worked with Phillips for 19 years.

The ceremony showed the resilience of the small community and served as a fundraising opportunity to pay for the restoration. At the event, the school gave away free hot dogs, popcorn and water, but asked for donations toward the turf fund.

"Father, we're just, every day as we look around us, we're so grateful and so thankful of what is," Phillips said. "Just nine months ago, almost nine months ago as Mrs. (Melissa) Speers, said, we were looking and, wow. But you and your grace, you provided."

Phillips used his prayer to thank God for all the churches that continually lift up the school in prayer, and he prayed the students and the community would continue to be protected.

"We know that it's only by the protection of your hand that we did not sustain great injuries on the day that that event occurred nine months ago," he said. "And Lord, we are again giving you praise and thanks for that today."

While the first game on the newly laid turf didn't go their way, the Lions look to show the state that not even a tornado can stop them from being serious competitors in the 3A classification.

Print Headline: Jessieville dedicates field repaired after January tornado


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