Recently, you’ve run a couple of letters critical of the Capital School District Board of Education for naming the new Dover High School stadium
after former superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas. The letter writers suggest letting all residents of the district have a say in just what to name the stadium, if anything. [“Postpone renaming of Dover stadium,”
I usually don’t support naming a field or stadium after anyone because it’s often someone recent, someone who has excelled at a sport, someone who is remembered, and that’s understandable. But we don’t know who came before, nor what they did.
It has been suggested that we name the stadium after football coach Jim Oxford, or track coach Bob Neylan, both outstanding coaches who brought championships to DHS, or someone else involved in athletics. And name the field after standouts like Mike Meade, but do we remember who came before?
Do we remember the Bushweller twins, Eric Hamilton, Jimmy Somerville, Russ McNeil? Probably not. Do we recall Evan Koons, football and basketball coach (never had a losing football season), athletic director and gym teacher, or Elmo Hackett, assistant football and track coach? No?
There’s no question that Jim Oxford was coach in 1988, the year of “The Legion of Doom,” and our state championship, but those guys played their games on the “old” Dover High field. If we are to name any field, shouldn’t it be that one?
I served on the school board with Michael Thomas, started the same day as Dr. Thomas, and watched as he brought a leadership to our district that was sorely needed. He proposed a “master plan” that we accepted, that showed us what was needed, that resulted in a new South Dover Elementary School, a new gymnasium and renovated auditorium at Central Middle, a new Dover High School and, of course, new athletic facilities.
We wanted to do more, but the state had other districts’ needs to pay for and simply couldn’t afford to do them all. He was here for 13 years, 13 years of leadership and, yes, “vision.”
If we were to open up the renaming process, can you imagine all the names we’d get? And then what — a referendum for how many people to vote on whatever names are presented?
If we are to name a new stadium after anyone, I say let’s name it after who is most responsible for it. Let’s support our elected board and support their decision. The Dr. Michael Thomas Stadium is a deserved recognition. Let’s keep it.
Doug Van Sant
Former member, Capital School District Board of Education