Why Guthrie's Jelsma Stadium is the Oklahoma City area's best high school football venue
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL — Welcome to “The Rock,” a stadium built during the Great Depression in the heart of Guthrie that remains near and dear to those who call it their home turf.
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“I don't know how much of a home-field advantage we had when I was playing, but when you're good I can see (the rock wall) being a big advantage,” said Stephenson, now the head baseball coach at Dodge City Community College in Kansas.
The stadium sits in the middle of historic downtown Guthrie and is source of pride for the state's first capital.
Much of that pride has to do with when the stadium was built — during the Great Depression era.
City leader Lawrence Jelsma was instrumental in building public support for a year-round recreational field in Guthrie, and in 1935, a $14,500 bond issue was passed.
With that and contributions from the Works Progress Administration, the $48,500 sandstone stadium was built and named after Jelsma, who died in 1934 before ever seeing a game there.
Seven decades later, with Jelsma in desperate need of restoration, Guthrie citizens passed another bond issue to give their beloved stadium a face-lift.
Even with the $3 million-plus reconstruction, Jelsma Stadium retained its quaint, historic feel and uniqueness.
ESPN thought enough of the place to name it the 13th-best high school football stadium in the country in 2008.
Guthrie has spent the 2011 season celebrating the 75th anniversary of Jelsma Stadium's first game, played on Sept. 18, 1936, between Guthrie and Edmond.
The dedication booklet that day called the stadium “one of the finest playgrounds in the state.”
As it turns out, Jelsma Stadium still is.