For the first time in 10 years, the Parkway boys and girls soccer teams are going to play games at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Parkway plays Huntington on Monday with the girls game starting at 5:30 and the boys following immediately after.
Parkway and the rest of the Bossier Parish schools normally play home games at Tinsley Park.
Parkway athletic director Rick Bryant said the coaches came up with the idea to have games at Preston Crownover, which is now known as Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium.
“This is something (boys head coach Cameron) Beckham and his assistant coaches came up with,” Bryant said. “They’re off to a real good start. He’s done a real good job. The thinking behind it was just to continue with some of those good feelings.
“We want to get the students to an atmosphere that they’re used to coming out and supporting and have an event at the stadium so the student body can all come out and support our soccer teams.”
The Parkway girls program has been a model of success. The Lady Panthers are continuing that this season. They are 12-7-3 and No. 6 in the Division II power rankings.
The boys program, once one of the area’s best, had fallen on hard times, though.
This season has already seen a remarkable turnaround. Parkway is 11-7 and in the Division II playoff hunt at No. 12 in the power rankings
There was a lot of negativity around the boys program, first-year non-faculty assistant coach Jason Elliott, whose son Eddie is a sophomore on the team, said.
Elliott said he wanted to help change the dynamic and mentality and thought one way to start doing that was having a game at Preston Crownover and making it a special event.
He believed the Panthers were going to have a good team this season. He stressed that when he started promoting the idea of having games at Preston Crownover back in September.
The administration took a wait-and-see approach, he said, but the Panthers’ 1-0 road victory over Ruston on Dec. 14 was an eye opener. The Bearcats, now No. 3, were No. 1 in the power rankings at the time. It’s still Ruston’s only loss.
Once given the go-ahead, Parkway had to find an opponent.
“We had to find a game on a short notice,” Elliott said. “Had to do a lot of things to get it to work. It didn’t come to fruition until Jan. 2 or 3. Kind of built on it from there.”
The coaches and Parkway supporters want it to be a special event.
Elliott said Bossier City mayor Lo Walker may be on hand as well as state representative Dodie Horton. The Bossier City Fire Department is also expected to send representatives.
The Shreveport Lady Rafters soccer team is supposed to send some players, he said. Shreveport Mudbugs coaches and players are also expected to be there.
Two $100 gift certificates will be awarded to the winners of a Soccer Challenge.
The Parkway and Elm Grove cheerleaders are also expected to participate. It will also be Senior Night.
Elliott said he hopes the event will create positive memories for all those participating. He said sports helped alleviate some of the stress of his youth growing up in a dysfunctional family.
“Some of my best memories in high school were sports-related,” he said.
“My thought process is let’s create something so these kids have the opportunity to make a memory that may impact them throughout their lives,” said Elliott, who has been coaching many of the Parkway players for three years on recreation teams.
Elliott hopes this is just the beginning.
“We’ve reached out to the community,” he said. “Next year we plan on growing it. Bunch of stuff this year but next year load it up some more. Maybe bring a guess speaker at half.”
NOTE: This story has been edited to reflect that the games were postponed Tuesday and rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 22.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org