Ten years ago Ouachita Christian head football coach Steven Fitzhugh had a vision that his Eagles’ football team would one day be playing on a brand-new synthetic turf field by Hellas Construction. A decade later the six-time state champions’ dream became a reality as the Eagles took flight over their beautiful new Matrix® Turf field by Hellas.
Fitzhugh began his 22nd year as head football coach at Ouachita Christian School (OCS) and 26th year at the campus. The crusade to raise the funds for the much-needed field was ten years in the making. The vision was simple OCS couldn’t afford to keep missing practices and games due to weather. Six playoff football practices, and eight home soccer games had to be moved last year due to unplayable conditions on their rain-soaked grass field. Football auctions raised half a million dollars. There were no big donors. This was Louisiana high school football fund-raising from the ground up so the Eagles could launch their season with a new football field.
There will be no more painting on Ouachita Christian’s field. The lines and the school and sponsor logos will be stitched into precise position on the field while it’s being laid. Matrix Turf fibers are manufactured at the Hellas fiber factory in Alabama and are tufted at the Hellas textile plant in Georgia. The fibers have a natural look and feel, providing a soft yet strong surface with a long-life span. Coach Fitz was so proud of the Matrix field that he gave Hellas crew workers official game jerseys and a different Hellas crew an entire Cajun meal in appreciation for their hard work and dedication to the cause.
Fitzhugh’s family tree was on hand for Ouachita Christian’s home opener including his two sons, who don the Vegas Gold and Green of the Eagles both past and present. Will is currently a senior running back and safety for OCS and caught the game’s first touchdown pass on the Eagles new Hellas field. Steven’s older son Grant is a defensive back at Harding University in Arkansas and was on site for the festivities because his school played their game the night before. Like father, like son. Steven attended Harding University, where Hellas recently installed the largest indoor Division II football practice facility in the country. Coincidence? Hellas made a big impression on the Fitzhugh family. Steven was excited to see his older son watching his younger brother play on the same field the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans play on. Hellas is the Official Turf Provider of the Dallas Cowboys and their practice facility at The Star in Frisco. Hellas is the Preferred Turf Provider of the Houston Texans and the Houston Methodist Training Center for the Texans.
Steven’s 193rd victory at the school is one he won’t soon forget as the Eagles raced out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter and defeated Arcadia 49-14. “The guys were excited about the new turf and started strong,” said Steven. The big lead allowed Coach Fitz a chance to be involved in the halftime festivities, which included the official naming of Steven Fitzhugh Field. “Shocked”, is the word Steven used when a banner was unveiled with his name emblazoned on it. Ouachita Christian School will seek win number 200 for head coach Steven Fitzhugh soon. Perhaps one day Coach Fitzhugh’s final win total will be attached on the very field that bears his name. For now, there’s more work to be done and winning to be had.
Hellas Construction, Inc. headquartered in Austin, TX, is one of the largest sports construction contractors in the United States, specializing in the general construction of sports facilities and sports surfaces. Hellas specializes in the base construction, installation and turf maintenance of artificial turf systems, track systems, tennis courts, and multi-use playing surfaces. hellasconstruction.com
Ouachita Christian School located in Monroe, Louisiana, this private school was established in 1974. The school motto is Preparing Youth for Time and Eternity. Notable alums include former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds and five members of the Robertson family from the TV show Duck Dynasty. ocs.org
Dallas Cowboys headquartered at The Star in Frisco, TX, part of the NFL's NFC East Division. dallascowboys.com
Houston Texans headquartered in Houston, TX at NRG Stadium, part of the NFL's AFC South Division. houstontexans.com