GREENVILLE — Friday night was a night of celebration at Greenville’s Harmon Field.
Greenville alum and New England Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light was on hand to witness the Greenville varsity football squad’s 13-12 victory over the Sidney Yellow Jackets.
In addition to cheering on the Green Wave, the former all-pro also was on the sidelines to present a “golden football” on behalf of the National Football League’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll, a nationwide initiative recognizing schools and communities that contributed to Super Bowl history and positively affected the game of football.
As part of the program, high schools across the nation, and around the world, receive a commemorative Wilson Golden Football for every player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster.
Nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and more than 2,000 high schools, will be recognized. Players and coaches also will have the opportunity to personally deliver golden footballs, as Light did.
Light addressed the crowd at halftime, saying, “It is an honor to be back tonight, and before I say anymore, I want to say this, to all the seniors who are playing tonight and their family members, hats off to you guys. What a great accomplishment. They’re out here playing a great game tonight; it’s very exciting. I remember being a senior, and I remember senior night, I remember what that meant to me, playing on this field … I’ll never forget it.
“It’s an honor to be here tonight. It’s an honor to present this golden football, which really represents my time here, where I started the game of football, where I learned so much, from all of my coaches, to the administration and everyone else who helped put me in a position to have success.”
Light presented the football to Greenville City Schools Superintendent Doug Fries, who said, “On behalf of Greenville City Schools, on behalf of the athletic department, and on behalf of the entire community, it is our honor to accept this golden football. We will display it proudly from now on, out in front of the high school and it is indeed our honor to have it.
“Thank you for your commitment to athletics,” he added, “and more importantly for your commitment to youth, and thank you for your commitment to our community. We are proud and glad to have you with us.”
In addition to handing off the golden football to the school, Light had an extra presentation to make.
“There’s a lot of excitement here in the Greenville community,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that are happening. I know you’re hard at work on the K-8 (building), the high school’s had a lot of renovations, but we’ve got an awesome project — the Friends of Harmon Field — and I want to present a check to you, from the Bill Belichick Foundation, which is really going to help kick off what’s going to be what I think is another exciting chapter in Greenville athletics, the school and everything.”
The Friends of Harmon Field is a group of local citizens who have banded together with the purpose of improving the high school’s athletic facilities.
Planned improvements include a new multi-purpose playing field; synthetic turf football/soccer field inside the main stadium; new stadium seating; new eight-lane track-and-field facility; new locker rooms, restrooms and concessions; energy-saving lighting fixtures and expanded parking. The total cost of the project is estimated at $5 million.
Light’s philanthropic efforts are personal.
“My time here, I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “It was some of the best times of my life. It was an honor to play with all my teammates, one of which is leading the Green Wave right now, and Coach (Aaron) Shaffer I wish all of those guys success for the rest of the game tonight and in the future.”
Following Greenville’s victory over Sidney, Coach Shaffer remarked, “It’s neat to have Matt come back. I’ve got a lot of good memories, friendships were formed on this field. I want the kids to have the best field, the best facilities they can have.”
Light told The Daily Advocate, “This has been an awesome opportunity. This is my first time back for a Greenville High School game.”
“I’ve got a lot of good memories here. To come back and see all this excitement is a privilege, and Greenville’s got a lot to be excited for.”
Mentioning the school district’s improvements under Superintendent Doug Fries and High School Principal Jeff Cassell, Light said, “If you can’t get excited about these things right now, I don’t know what will get you excited. There’s been an awesome ability to blend public and private resources, to make this stadium something the kids here will enjoy for a lifetime.”
Fries said, “It’s an honor to have Matt back here. He represents the school and community so well and we’re happy to have his commitment to the school and community. He’s a great ambassador and role model for our athletes. We appreciate it.”
For more information on the Friends of Harmon Field, visit the group’s website at www.friendsofharmonfield.com.