TRURO - Scott Annand had a vision when he embarked upon a project to transform the football facilities at Cobequid Educational Centre.
It included new bleachers with double the seating capacity from 500 to 1,000, scoreboard, locker room, meeting room, lounge, press box and more.
But it wasn't really compete until he decided on a name - the James Macpherson Stadium - in honour of the superb running back who helped the Cougars win back-to-back provincial titles in 1989 and 1990, later starred with the Saint Mary's Huskies and who died in a plane crash 12 years ago at the age of 27.
"I just had a personal respect and admiration for him as a person and an athlete," said Annand, the head coach of the CEC Cougars football team, of the decision. "I wanted his legacy to live on."
Annand said if it wasn't for Macpherson's family - mother Mary-Lou Pye, half-brother Andrew Pye and brother-in-law Sean Mongey - the project wouldn't have come to fruition.
"It was through their generosity that a lot of this has taken place."
When Mary-Lou first heard what Annand wanted to do, she said it felt right.
"It was very positive to me," she said. "It's where he started with his football career and they have a great coaching team there.
"He gave his all to the game and he never faltered when it came to playing his best as part of the team," she said.
Since April of last year, Annand, along with a steering committee, has been working toward finishing up his ‘Boys of Fall' plan. Now the project, with an estimated $250,000 price tag is in its final stage and will be turn-key ready by Sept. 1.
"I wanted to create something to interest and bring intrigue to the kids to playing high school football," he said. "As you can see with the titles on display (on the grandstand), CEC football is one of the most successful programs in this community's history."
"I had a vision for these students to continue to do what they do on the field where they excel, but to also learn important life skills through the game of football."
Annand stressed, however, that community support in the form of in-kind and monetary donations helped make it a reality.
One example was Wil-Kare Paving donating and paving the asphalt below the bleachers, courtesy of a former football player now with the company.
And the new score clock "was donated by a family whose kids played and still play here - those with Masstown Market," said Annand.
Another integral part of the stadium is the new two-story facility that will house the home team locker room.
"It will meet all of our needs under one roof," said Annand. "Along with the locker room we have an athletic trainers area, team meeting rooms, a coaches office with a video editing centre, a press box, and the Jamie Sheppard Memorial Players Lounge."
The locker room is also being honoured - after longtime coach Rick Kaupp.
Although the Cougars' season opener takes place Sept. 16 at 1 p.m., the grand opening of the new stadium won't take place until the following week.
"We'll have a ceremony and ribbon cutting on Sept. 23, which is our second home game of the season," Annand said. "I'm very excited. This has been a lot of work but the end result is outstanding. We're already seeing the benefits with the number of kids that are out this summer that have been committed to the program."
Anyone still wishing to make a donation to the renovation project can do so by contacting Annand at 893-7031, 896-5716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT JAMES MACPHERSON:
- First football team: Truro Peewee Bluebombers
- Won provincial football championships with the Bluebombers and Truro Bantam Freightliners
- Helped the CEC Cougars achieve consecutive Nova Scotia high school titles in 1989 and 1990
- Was a running back for Saint Mary's University under coach Larry Uteck from 1992 to 1996
- Was named an AUAA all-star for three straight years - 1994-96
- Named male athlete of the year at SMU in 1996
- Was also a basketball player and track athlete
- He died in a plane crash on July 19, 2000, at age 27.