Notre Dame Prep players hit brand new field for first time

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was a special morning for a group of high school football players at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale.

Even though they're getting ready for their last game of the season, this was the first time that the Notre Dame Saints were able to practice on their brand new field.

"It's fantastic," says Principal Jim Gmelich. This field has been a long time coming. We started the process three years ago now, and with great sacrifice to many of our families to provide this opportunity."

"It's a good time," says head coach Gary Gregory. "It re-energized these kids, it re-energized the seniors. So we're just thankful to have this thing and have it moving forward. We look forward to playing our home games on it when the whole thing is done and complete. But it's beautiful."

Thew new field is called the Scot Bemis Field, after the coach who started the school's football program and led it to back-to-back state championships in 2007 & 2008. He died of lung cancer in January 2012, at the age of 45.

"He's our founding head coach," Gmelich says of Bemis. "A dynamic personality. An absolutely extraordinary teacher and a great football coach, too. A great mentor, not only to our boys, but he also coached girls' soccer. This is really his home; an opportunity to honor him and his legacy here."

Since Notre Dame Prep opened in 2002 with freshman and sophomores, home football games have been played at Scottsdale Community College.

"You just didn't have that "home" feeling," says Gregory. "That's all we've ever known is Scottsdale Community College. So for us, it's been fine. But now that we see this foundation laid, this beautiful field here, we're ready to go and call it our own home field."

Notre Dame had hoped to begin the football season on its new field, but there was a three-month delay in building. But now, it's just about ready. And even though the stands aren't in and the lights aren't up, the turf has been installed. And on Thursday morning, the team practiced on its new field for the very first time.

"We get to bring our athletics home," says Gmelich. "We've been off-campus for quite some time."

Three years ago, Notre Dame purchased an additional 7.28 acres of land next to the school to build a new loop road, which leads to new parking lots and this new sports complex. The complex will also be used for lacrosse and soccer.

Notre Dame Prep
9701 East Bell Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 634-8200

http://www.ndpsaints.org