Administrator’s Corner: The next chapter begins

Published 8:40 pm Friday, October 26, 2018

Administrator’s Corner by Afton Wacholz

Afton Wacholz


On Tuesday the community of Albert Lea celebrated one final victory on the field that has deep history for many past and present players, coaches, fans and district employees. With mixed feelings and emotions, many gathered to show their Tigers support and take in one last view of a facility that has hosted 51 years of Albert Lea athletics.

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The first chapter in this incredible journey began in fall 1967, when then-head coach Jim Gustafson led his football team in their first season at Hammer Field. The resilience and dedication of these players and coaches put Albert Lea football on the map as a state contender. Gustafson went on to lead his teams to five Big 9 Conference titles and three state championships. In recognition of Gustafson’s contributions to Albert Lea football and our community, the field now carries his namesake. His legacy lives on in what we now know as Jim Gustafson Field.

As the pages of history at Hammer were written, Albert Lea saw the expansion of student opportunities as the game of soccer made its way into our community and onto the game field. As soccer grew in popularity, so did the foot traffic at Hammer Complex. The facility’s expanded use will continue to be a goal in future years.

History has its ups and downs. There are pages in every book we don’t want to turn or chapters we don’t want to end. However, nothing remains constant. We know the faces of Hammer Field have changed over the years, and so, too, must the facility itself. We learn from the highs and lows of our experiences and we accomplish more when we work together. Anyone who has put on an Albert Lea Tigers uniform has hopefully grown because of their experiences. 

Our memories and accomplishments do not simply disappear with the turn of a page. They continue to live on as we share stories and history with each generation. We would not be where we are today without the deep history of Tigers support from our community. Many have made their contributions to the history of Hammer Complex, and many more are waiting to make theirs.

As we embark on the beginning of our next chapter, we are paying forward the investments made in 1967 and those since. It is with the most sincere gratitude to the past and current District 241 community that we will soon see the start of this commitment to excellence. Thanks to the outpouring of support from our community, the updated amenities offered by the new facility will be enjoyed by generations to come.

What we build today will be the lasting legacy of Hammer Complex and Jim Gustafson Field for the next 50 years and beyond.

Thank you Albert Lea! Always a Tiger!

Afton Wacholz is Albert Lea’s activities director.