by E. Bruce Davis, Bull Run Observer

2 September 2011, pp. 1, 8

“Hundreds of children, parents, volunteers and county leaders could not contain their excitement at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Grizzly Sports Complex at 10600 Determination Dr. in Nokesville on Aug. 19. In a culmination of the Haymarket Youth Football League ‘Field of Dreams’ fundraising project, two beautiful new Shaw Sportexe synthetic turf fields were revealed to the onlookers, many of whom were clad in maroon, black and white.

“Gary Skeens, Grizzly commissioner, started the ceremony, speaking from the middle of a new field, welcomed everyone when he said, ‘Good evening Grizzly Nation.’ He introduced the Grizzly board of directors and Wally Covington, Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Brentsville District. Covington noted the teamwork it took to create the fields on their 16 acres and asked, ‘Are you ready for some football?’  [passage omitted]

“The project to build [the fields] started in August 2010, when busloads of Grizzly Football enthusiasts pleaded with Prince William Board of County Supervisors for more sports facilities for western Prince William County youth. A 5 to 3 vote rezoned a residential project in the Rural Crescent now known as Avendale. Owner Brookfield Homes/Vint Hill LLC proffered available recreational space to the county. The Grizzly supporters hoped this land would be available for Grizzly football; it was. The fields will first host Grizzly football games with a Sept. 17 kickoff.

“Since the vote, Grizzly supporters have worked with many individuals and groups to build a $2.5 million facility, according to information from the Grizzly Nation.

” ‘We have never seen anything like this happen so fast,’ said M.J. Williams. ‘My boys are going to middle school, but they stayed in Grizzly Football because of these fields.’

“Pam Key, a fund-raising committee member, said  ‘This is shocking to me. I thought the reality of these fields would be when our boys [ages 10 and 13] were in college.’

” ‘We have been searching for years for places for fields,’ Skeens said, when the Prince William park authority mentioned the area to Grizzly leaders.

“A major boost on the current project came from substantial financial help from Brookfield Homes, [commercial realtor and developer, Weber-Rector, Inc.] Mary Ann Ghadban and [Patriot Development Corp’s] Skip Albrite. The football league entered into a 35-year-land-lease agreement with Prince William County. The Grizzlies must maintain the fields during the lease’s term. The fields are designed for football, lacrosse, field hockey and soccer.

” ‘We expect other sports to play here this year,’ Skeens said. Under the agreement with the county other sports deal directly with the Grizzlies for games at the complex. Jay Ellington, executive director of Prince William County Park Authority, attended the ribbon cutting and was pleased with the beauty and safety of the fields.

“The Grizzlies started with 70 players 11 years ago. Now, 33 teams in age and weight divisions include about 800 participants, including cheerleaders. [passage omitted]

“Grizzly leaders committed to raising $250,000 and hard work to complete the project.

“The two fields are complete, but needs remain for opening day, such as electrical work to provide temporary power, sod, aluminum benches and cash. ‘Water too is our biggest need,’ Skeens said. ‘We also need lights,’ which would extend the hours of usage.” [passage omitted]