Published Nov. 9, 2023
BY AVERY PALSHAW
With some setbacks in the construction of the Carmel High School football stadium lights, their original estimated deadline of Oct. 27, which would have enabled the CHS football team to play under lights for the last regular season home game against Soledad on Oct. 28, has passed. The lights’ bases have been installed, with the light poles beginning installation Nov. 1, and the final project will be put into use once the lights meet additional qualifications with no definitive date for completion.
According to Dan Paul, chief operations officer for Carmel Unified School District, the bases were installed during the week of Oct. 17, but the battery backup system was delayed from the factory, hindering their ability to be put into use. The stadium lights as well as the pool lights are anticipated to be tested for dark sky certification in the week of Nov. 20.
The light poles were tentatively scheduled to be installed into the bases Nov. 1-2, but the construction took a few days longer than expected.
During construction, the football stadium bleachers have been closed off to CHS students during and after school several times for safety reasons, causing minor difficulties for athletic programs like field hockey and football. Despite the inconvenience of having to find alternate ways to get on to the field, like walking around the backside of the pool and entering through the back gate, fall sports teams were still able to practice on the field and even hold home games.
“Teams are always working around each other’s schedules,” says CHS athletic director and varsity football coach Golden Anderson. “Most sports teams are pretty used to being flexible.”
As for now, fall and winter sports coaches are proceeding with their usual practice and game schedules unless told otherwise and will continue to do so until the project is completed and the lights are put into use.
Because of delays in construction, some of the work of the light pole bases that required heavy machinery had to be accomplished during school hours. As the bleachers were closed off, assistant principal Ernesto Pacleb assisted in directing students and parents during the school day and sports events.
“As an administrator, I always try to protect the safety of the parents, staff and students,” remarks Pacleb when describing his role during construction.
The prospect of field lights during the 2023-24 school year has grasped the excitement of field sport coaches like varsity boys’ soccer coach Scott Hirschfield, who emphasizes the importance of lights for soccer games and practices. Currently, varsity boys’ and girls’ soccer teams share the CHS field and junior varsity programs have to commute to Carmel Middle School for practices and games due to limited daylight during the soccer season. In addition, the CHS sports medicine program does not commute to CMS for games, posing safety concerns for players.
“The positive impact that lights will have on the soccer program cannot be overstated,” explains Hirschfield. “At this point it really is a necessity.”
While the winter and spring sports programs are still hopeful to have stadium lights this school year, field hockey and football have passed their chances of having lights for the 2023 season.
Anderson says he feels for the many players that put their heart and soul into CHS getting lights that will not get to play football under them, but notes that he’s been coaching for 15 years without lights, so the absence of them is not entirely disappointing.
“There haven’t been lights for, like, 70 football seasons,” the varsity coach later adds, “so to keep it in perspective I
don’t feel let down.”
Football players that will potentially be able to play under stadium lights in the 2024 season express their enthusiasm for that idea.
CHS starting quarterback Hudson Rutherford says, “I’m excited because I’m a junior so next year [football] home games under the lights are going to be way more fun.”
What are you most looking forward to about having lights?
Isaac Martinez, senior
“Soccer games because they’ll be later at night and hopefully more people will show up.”
Mason Haag, sophomore
“Late night football games because they’re fun.”
Savanna Radowicz, junior
“Definitely Friday night lights because that would have a big impact on our school spirit and the overall energy we have at games.”