Lake View High School alum dedicates newly renovated field to AAU players

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Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:29 PM EST
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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - 59 years ago, Lake View High School’s football team took home their last state championship before integration.

The Tigers football team rolled undefeated through their 1963 playing schedule. They outscored their opponents despite playing on a field that many would call unplayable. Today former teammates and partners of the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center presented the newly renovated field to current players.

The school was initially slated for demolition back in 2006 but was later turned into a community center with the help of Brookland Baptist Church and other partners.

From the dust bowl to the glory bowl-- the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center now has a new playing field.

“This field plays a significant role because it represents physical transformation,” said Pastor Charles Jackson.

Charles Jackson Senior serves as the pastor at Brookland Baptist church. His church along with community partners bought the school when it was in danger of demolition and turned it into the Brookland Lakeview Empowerment Center.

“The mission statement of the Brookland Church is proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism education and economic empowerment. So we would want to empower this neighborhood, this community which has been a part of my life,” said Rev. Jackson.

And Rev. Jackson is watching the mission come to life. Tuesday afternoon, Rev. Jackson and other community partners presented the new playing field to the community. The presentation included a dedication ceremony for kids who will call the field home.

“I’m just so happy to see this property repurposed to do what it’s doing and serving in a grossly underserved community,” said Bennie Sulton.

Bennie Sulton serves as a board member for the Lakeview Empowerment Center but is also a 1964 graduate of Lakeview High School. He says he remembers the last speech his coach gave before their big state championship game.

“He says this will be your last game for almost all of you because most of you won’t go to the next level of college because the coaches and all of the recruiters are going to say you’re too small, you’re too whatever. He says but if y’all go out here and do what I know you can do, they’ll be talking about it for the next 50 years, and guess what, we’re still talking about it,” said Sulton.

The Tigers played their last game on this field while segregated. Over the years the field began to show its age. It had no lights and was uneven. With the help of Dominion Energy, the field was renovated.

“I get a call from Rev. Jackson and we come out here to look at the field and all he really wanted were lights and I said well we need to go and talk to the rec commission at Lexington and they can probably get you some lights but I can get you some polls,” said Keller Kissam.

Dominion Energy also had a new irrigation system installed and leveled out the field. They were finally able to present the project to the community. Alumni from 1963 including a football player and a cheerleader passed down footballs to current players and cheerleaders symbolizing blessings to the next generations that will utilize this field.

Dominion Energy president Keller Kissam says this renovation project cost 250 thousand dollars and took roughly a month to complete.

Around 300 players on the West Columbia Tigers amateur athletic union team still use the 61-year-old field, which has been dubbed “the dust bowl” over the years.

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