William Byrd High School Principal Tammy Newcomb and Roanoke County School Board Chairman Tim Greenway, along with WB quarterback Sam Dantzler and running back Larry Basham, will long recall August 25 as one of the most memorable days of their lives.
Basham scored his 91st career touchdown and Dantzler made his debut as starting quarterback as they led the Terriers to a 34-7 win over the Cave Spring High School Knights.
For Newcomb and Greenway, the field the players were competing on was what will make the day always significant to them. August 25 marked the first athletic event played on the new stadium field at Robert A. Patterson Stadium– a dream come true for both.
The 45-year-old grass field in the stadium was replaced over the summer with a synthetic turf field and a rubberized track at a cost of about $1.3 million. Improvements are also being completed on the 4.7 acres of athletic practice fields below the stadium.
The day started around 4:30 a.m. with a pep rally sponsored by WDBJ-7 for their Friday Night Football program, with interviews of football players, cheerleaders, students in the Dog Pound student cheering section, coaches, and the administration. The WB Marching Terriers drumline produced the background sound.
Festivities continued with a ribbon-cutting reception and ceremony at the stadium that afternoon with speeches by many, most of which opened with the words “thank you.”
“Thank you” was expressed to Newcomb and Greenway for having the dream, to the School Board for funding the project, and especially to county schools Construction Coordinator Chris Lowe for overseeing the project and bringing it to fruition. He was presented with a field dedication football and thanked individually by each member of the grateful football team. Lowe also supervised extensive renovations to the locker rooms at Byrd over the past school year.
The ribbon-cutting line included School Board members Tim Greenway, Mike Wray, and Don Butzer, School Superintendent Dr. Greg Killough, Principals Bob Patterson, Tammy Newcomb, and Todd Kageals, Construction Coordinator Chris Lowe, coaches Jeff Highfill and Steve Lonker, Athletic Director Jason Taylor, Top Terrier Abby Spotswood, SCA President Caleb Divers, Dog Pound leader Caleb Carawan, and the Terrier Mascot Bryce Ellis.
The Dog Pound responded to the ribbon cutting with their traditional chant of “I Believe That We Will Win.”
The celebration resumed at the game that night— the first of the season— with the coin toss by beloved former Principal Patterson, introduction of Top Terrier Abby Spotswood; and the premiere of the Marching Terriers band “Power of Music” program.
The stadium seats were a sea of orange with all students decked out in “Dog Pound” shirts, provided to every William Byrd student through the generosity of individuals and businesses in the Vinton community— a request made by Newcomb over the summer.
Those who donated to fulfill that dream include: Cundiff Drug Store, Double Envelope, Ellis Senior Care, LLC, Grand Storage of Vinton, Greg, Victoria, and Nicholas Leslie, Donnie, Kathy, and J.J. Seymore-Lanter, Kim Colls, Neely’s Accounting, Phillip and Alice Leffell, Renaissance Contract Lighting, Timothy T. Janowicz, DDS, Affordable Septic Tank, SVC, LLC, Charles and Diane Law, “In Memory of Shannon Gray— Class of 1994,” Clean Valley Environmental, Don and Tammy Halliwill “Past, Present and Future Thanks for the Memories,” The Landscape Store, Tim and Brad Greenway, Vinton Booster Club, WBHS Booster Club, Woods Service Center, Andy Nicely “In Honor of Terry Plunk and 1982 State Championship Wrestling Team coached by Barry Trent and Mike Gibson,” and Todd and Christy Boothe “In Memory of Shannon Gray— Class of ’94.”
Photos of the ribbon-cutting festivities can be seen on The Vinton Messenger Facebook page as well as on the Roanoke County Public Schools website Photo Gallery.