The Wildcat Foundation and YOU, Building the Future Together! That is the tag line for the capital fundraising campaign that raised money to bring significant changes to John H. Frederick Field at Memorial Park Stadium.
On Thursday, September 30, those changes were officially revealed with a ribbon cutting ceremony, and on Friday, October 1 the facilities will be dedicated to the Mechanicsburg Area School District.
The Mechanicsburg Area School District (MASD) may claim Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park as its own, though in reality, in 1919, it was the initiative of a group of local merchants and businessmen who took it upon themselves to raise funds to purchase land connected to the existing field, which was owned by Mechanicsburg Borough and leased to the Mechanicsburg High School Athletic Association. When the purchase was complete, the land was “given to the people of Mechanicsburg as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I.”
At that time, football was in its infancy and what was to become a multi-use field and stadium was not yet envisioned. Still the Mechanicsburg Club, a local service organization, funded the construction of a field house. Years later, upon the death of John H. Frederick in 1994, the Mechanicsburg School Board of Directors recommended that the field at the west end of the Park bear the name of John H. Frederick Field as a lasting memorial to the beloved teacher, mentor, and winning football coach from 1937-1957, excepting two years of armed service duty during World War II.
John H. Frederick Field was officially dedicated on September 4, 1998, while earlier in that year, the MASD Board of Directors established the Wildcat Foundation, the education foundation for MASD, whose mission is to strengthen the educational, cultural, wellness, and athletic programs of the Mechanicsburg Area School District.
With the exceptions of installing bleacher seating, pole lights, and an artificial turf field, little had changed at the stadium since 1947.
The Wildcat Foundation, in partnership with the Rich Lichtel Fund (a fund of the Foundation for Enhancing Communities) joined forces in 2017 to bring about significant improvements to the stadium with the construction of the Rich Lichtel Field House, and a new ticketing center. The original field house, built in 1947, has been upgraded and repurposed to accommodate modern, ADA accessible restrooms, a training room, officials’ locker room, storage space and a community/family restroom. Likewise, the exterior of the concession stand has been reclad and reroofed.
None of this would be possible, were it not for significant financial and in-kind donations made by businesses large and small, and by individuals throughout the greater Mechanicsburg community and beyond.
It was a labor of love, first for the family and friends of Rich Lichtel who founded the Rich Lichtel Fund and envisioned a field house in his memory, over a decade ago. Years later, the Wildcat Foundation is honored to partner with the Rich Lichtel Fund to create this lasting tribute to a man who was a beloved teacher, coach, mentor and friend to so many; not just in Mechanicsburg, but throughout our greater, central Pennsylvania community.
As the Wildcat Foundation maintains no structural assets, the facilities are dedicated to the Mechanicsburg Area School District for the benefit of Mechanicsburg students and our shared community, for what we hope will be many more decades.