To the Editor:
I am writing today as the chair of the city’s Youth Sports Advisory Board (YSAB). The YSAB is comprised of representatives of all the sports programs serving the youth in our community. In many cases, athletes who participate in ACPS athletics have come through the organizations and programs represented on our board. The programs we sponsor and coach shape our children in positive ways and sometimes save lives. We sow the early seeds of success for the players that go on to play at T.C. Williams High School.
The members of the YSAB have for many years talked about, worked toward and waited for lights on the athletic field at T.C. Williams — the premier field in Alexandria. The time has come for our community to work together to make lights at the Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium a reality, and sooner rather than later.
Several years ago, a one-time Friday night football game played at T.C. under temporary lights helped garner hundreds of signatures on a petition requesting lights be permanently installed. That was the only Friday night home game played in this town in memory.
The urban myth persists that T.C. Williams is too dangerous to have Friday night games. That is untrue and our community does not deserve that reputation. We have great kids at T.C. Williams and they deserve the chance to make those great memories of Friday night games under the lights. We are the home of the hugely popular film “Remember the Titans” and yet our kids never get a taste of what it is like to play in front of a hometown sellout crowd under the lights.
It affects the sports and the athletes in ways seen and unseen. It tells them they are not good enough. We need to get past that. T.C. Williams is our only public high school and it’s a great one. Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium is a beautiful, state-of-the-art field and track except for one glaring omission — there are no lights.
I hope — our whole community hopes — that steps are now being taken to remedy this situation. The School Board will examine the feasibility of adding lights at our stadium at its June 19 meeting. They will need the support of a great many people in this community to make this a reality. Please let the School Board know you support lights at T.C. Williams.
Jim Gibson Chair, Alexandria Youth Sports Advisory Board