CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — The first Football Friday Nite is less than a month away with the season starting August 20.
To get ready, teams in Ohio are allowed to practice 10 times in July and one team is using three of those days at a farm in Chillicothe.
“I think my first reaction was, ‘Woah. This is a pretty special set up here,'” Whitehall football coach Rod Lightfoot said.
Whitehall has been using the farm, owned and operated by Grant Douglass, for the past six years, excluding last year due to the pandemic. Douglass has run the farm for 30 years and built the field in 2003 as a camp for his hometown team of Grandview Heights.
“At the end of the day, what I really like is to see these young men and women come together as a group or a team and that makes it all worth doing,” Douglass said.
Located on State Route 104 in Chillicothe, the farm has become a popular camp for inner city and rural teams alike.
“It’s pure enjoyment being around the kids and watching them grow and develop and seeing their excitement and just feeling their love for the game,” Whitehall athletic director Bill Hughett said.
But for some kids, the field of dreams can be a nightmare at first.
“I was like all the bugs and stuff, bruh this is just annoying,” senior Kevin Jackson said. “I was like, ‘No. I don’t want to come out here bro.'”
But once the camp is over, most players can’t wait to come back, especially the senior class.
“After the last day was over, I just wanted to stay cause it was fun,” Jackson said. “It really creates chemistry between everybody. It lets everybody just bond and then it just gives us a better opportunity to learn.”
The camp is also a good learning opportunity for the coaching staff.
“We get to know our kids from a different perspective rather than just on the field and that’s essential to making connections with them and to help us become better coaches with our kids,” Lightfoot said.
The field is used for more than just football as Douglass hosts teams from all kinds of sports, including soccer, volleyball, lacrosse and country country.