On Saturday, Sept. 18, T.C. Williams football players played their last home game at Parker-Gray Memorial stadium, beating Yorktown 27-10. The stadium will reopen when the new high school is completed.
“It was a great way to close the stadium,” said T.C. principal, John Porter. “We are going out on a winning note and, when the stadium reopens, I hope we open on a winning streak.”
Already, construction crews have begun to dig a trench around the perimeter of the stadium for electricity that will be required for the upcoming construction. “The stadium will be a staging area for the construction equipment,” said School Board member Kenneth Foran, the Board liaison to T.C. “I would expect the equipment to begin arriving soon.”
The stadium was constructed some time after the school opened in 1965. “I remember T.C. playing most of their home games at George Washington High School because there were lights at GW,” said Ken Barnet, a graduate of GW. “All three schools – T.C., GW and Hammond – played their games at GW because we had lights. I don’t remember exactly when T. C. started playing games on Saturday afternoons but I think it was in 1970.”
That year, according to Barnet and others, there was a fight after a T.C.-GW game and City Council passed a resolution banning night football. “Before that, on Friday night, GW was the place to be for football games,” Barnet said. “I remember as many as ten thousand people sitting in the stands.”
There were no lights at the T.C. stadium. “That decision was made for several reasons,” said Melvin Miller, a former School Board member and the current chair of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. “First of all, there were fights at games at GW even before the school system was desegregated. The neighbors closest to the T.C. stadium were concerned about the fights and the fact that T.C. opened as a desegregated school added to their concerns. Thus, there were no lights.”
On Oct. 29, 1983, just before the last T.C. home game of that year, the stadium was named Parker-Gray Memorial stadium, to honor the Parker-Gray name. By that time, the high school that had borne that name was gone.
“It was easy to rename the stadium because it really hadn’t been named prior to that,” Miller said.
When the stadium reopens after the new school is built, (some time after 2007) there will still be no lights. “I believe that there will be night football, though,” Miller said. “I believe that we will have the new all city sports facility before the T.C. stadium is ready and that facility will have lights.”
T.C. will play home football games at Episcopal High School for the remainder of this year, beginning with homecoming on Oct. 2.