By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
It’s been about nine months in the making, and tonight it comes to fruition.
Mankato West High School will unveil a new scoreboard at Todnem Field tonight when the Scarlets open the season against New Prague. It was a project that began in earnest last November, and the scoreboard will be used at its first varsity event tonight.
The LED board is multi-functional and can be used for football games, soccer matches, track meets and just about anything else that might take place at Todnem Field. West athletic director Ken Essay said track was the main impetus for the project and, in particular, the Kandyce Stoffel family.
Stoffel was a former Mankato West student who was killed by a drunk driver while attending the University of Minnesota in October of 2010. She was a track athlete for the Scarlets, and her family decided to take some of her memorial money and put it towards a new scoreboard.
“That’s what kind of got the ball rolling,” Essay said.
Essay then approached the West booster club to see if it would be interested in helping out, and they agreed. In addition, Dennis and Sue Hood, who have been longtime supporters of West athletics, got involved with the fundraising.
The total cost of the scoreboard was about $37,000. The Stoffel family contributed $10,000, the booster club added another $10,000 and the Hoods raised the remaining $17,000.
“We’ve always been boosters at West,” Dennis Hood said. “We had three sons go through West who had a great experience and got a great education. As you get a little bit older you’re able to give back, and this was something we wanted to support.”
Hood said he received a $6,000 contribution from Carol Greenwald Confer and the rest came in $50 and $100 chunks. Confer’s son, Seth Greenwald, was also a student athlete at West.
There was hope the scoreboard could be used during last spring’s track season, but it ended up in place for only the last junior varsity meet of the year. A fiber optic cable had to be run from the board to the press box, which delayed the installation.
The previous scoreboard was about 26 years old, and Essay said replacement parts were getting hard to find. West recycled the old board and the new one is a little bit larger.
“I think it’s going to enhance the sporting experience for everybody,” Essay said.
Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.