Mishawaka football preps for new era with stadium and staff changes
MISHAWAKA, Ind. - As teams prepare for the coming football season, several local high schools are giving their facilities a facelift.
One of them is Mishawaka High School, who is essentially hitting the reset button not only with the Steele Stadium renovations, but with a new staff in place as well.
“It’s an incredible time at Mishawaka," said athletic director Dean Huppert. "You’ve got the new start and new coaches. For our kids coming in this year, they need to visualize [the facilities], because right now it looks like a bit of a mess. But the construction projects are coming along and the things we promised, we’re following through with."
The facility upgrades come as part of a $5 million bond, through a referendum passed earlier this year. Additionally, sizeable donations from individual community members have helped specific projects around Steele Stadium, such as the new Alumni Plaza entrance.
Steele Stadium will also have an updated and expanded track around the football field, which will allow the Cavemen to once again host home meetsew state-of-the-art video board that will feature both physical and video-based advertising space, which the school believes will repay much of the money spent for the renovations.
While the football facility is the most noticeable change, the team leadership is another major aspect of the entrance into a new era for the Cavemen.
Keith Kinder took over the program after longtime coach Bart Curtis took a job at Warsaw in the spring. While Kinder had been around the program in recent years, he said the timing with upgraded facilities continued to grow excitement among his players.
“It’s been an easy sell to a lot of the players when you’re trying to recruit kids in the building to come out," he said before the team gathered at John Young Middle School for summer practice. "It’s a great facility, because its one of the oldest in our area, so there’s a lot of that history there but you have all the newer things.”
In addition to Kinder's promotion, Mishawaka also added strength and conditioning coach Michael Szerszen who brings a college football pedigree to the multiple Cavemen teams under his direction.
Szerszen's hiring comes at the same time the renovations include a complete facelift to the weightroom facilities inside the high school, designed to be more open and inclusive to other teams. New air conditioning units have also been installed to help the strength facility and the swimming pool.
“It helps them tremendously," Szerszen said of the new weightroom. "It’s very motivating. It’s going to be a great room. It’ll look great, great equipment ... and it’s going to be able to create a great atmosphere for these athletes.”
The Cavemen will first play in their updated stadium in the second week of the high school football season, which will be Aug. 24.