School officials pledge unity after youth football field vandalism

Published: Nov. 15, 2010 at 9:46 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2010 at 10:35 PM CST
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By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Administrators are weighing in after parents found explicit graffiti and devastating damage at a Christian youth football field over the weekend.

Vandals ransacked Hanks Field, causing more than $10,000 in damage as they destroyed the concession stand and press box, and spray painted highly explicit words and drawings on the field.

The vandals dragged two Christian schools into their rampage, when they spray-painted praise for Macon Road Baptist and digs at Central Baptist.     

"It's tragic," said Pastor Daniel Webb of Macon Road Baptist School. "It's a tragic situation.  I grew up in Memphis."

"It was certainly a disappointment to see something like that happen in the community," added Russ Holcomb, an administrator at Central Baptist School.

Both men said the rivalry between their schools has always been friendly.

"We're just a real close-knit family," Webb said. "We're in the same business.  We're both Christian schools...we feel like we're branch offices for the same kingdom."

"We're all working towards the same goal, which is to educate young people to glorify Jesus Christ," Holcomb added.

The vandalism left the field is unusable. Youth leagues across East Memphis and Shelby County use it for various sports, from football to track to rugby.   Now, one team has already canceled practice, while is worried its season will be over before it starts two weeks from now.

According to Alan McFerran, Bartlett Youth Sports, which manages the field, is tapped financially after copper thieves forced them to rewire their facilities.

"We just need the means to go ahead and rebuild that concession stand and repair the press box and repair the wiring and controls," McFerran said.

They hope the community will chip in, but the clock is ticking.

"I know we'll be working every night and weekend around the clock," McFerran said.

And as police do their job, no one wants to point fingers.

"It's an emotional thing for all of us in the community, but I hope because your name is painted randomly on a field you don't have to assume guilt for everything your name is painted on," Webb said.

Bartlett Youth Sports has set up a collection fund at Bank of Bartlett to save Hanks Field.  Donations can be made to the Bartlett Youth Sports Donation Fund.

Meanwhile, everyone involved says they hope the vandals are caught, and they'll all do their part to restore Hanks Field.  Call Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH if you have any information leading to an arrest.

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