Petaluma High School’s newly refurbished Ellison Field hosted its first football game since its extensive makeover, and before Friday’s game, there was one particularly interested observer.
It was Steve Ellison. Former head coach of the Trojans and the facility’s namesake.
He made his way to the new artificial turf, complete with end zones filled in with the school’s color, purple, with the look of a man who just landed on the moon. He had seen the place before but never like this.
Ellison eventually found Trojan coach Rick Krist. The two shared a word in the middle of the pristine playing surface.
“I said ‘I’m in awe.’ I mean, I’ve seen the field but I haven’t seen it with everybody here,” Ellison said. “I’m thrilled to see it.”
Ellison spent 31 seasons as Petaluma’s head man, compiling a 204-126-7 record according to John Jackson of the Petaluma Argus-Courier. His last season on the sidelines was 2009, when his team posted a 12-1 record, won the Sonoma County League championship and reached the North Coast Section semifinals.
Almost a decade later, the field where Ellison made so many memories is not just a place the Trojans are proud to call home. It’s a facility the whole city, or at least the west side of town, can be proud of.
“It’s fantastic,” Ellison said. “It’s something that I always hoped we’d see someday. I think we’ve gone from a cozy facility to really, a jewel of a facility now. It’s beautiful. Everything about it. The field’s great, the whole surrounding area, it’s just fantastic. And I think it really speaks well for the Petaluma city schools, and Petaluma High School and Petaluma football, and all the other sports, lacrosse and soccer. I’m thrilled with it.”
Ellison has countless fond recollections of the old, natural grass field that would get markedly worse as the football season wore on. There was a reason for the renovation, after all. “They’re all great memories. Nothing changes it. Some of the great memories were probably because of the field and the way it was. You know the conditions weren’t perfect, but we never let it stop us,” Ellison said.
The Trojans couldn’t be stopped in the inaugural game at new Ellison Field either. They beat Terra Linda 21-7 behind two touchdowns from running back Garrett Freitas.
And with that, a new era of Petaluma High School football has begun — one that links the Trojans’ past with its present. Their home is no longer an old field with a new name. It’s a new field with the proper name. And those purple end zones really pop.
“I love this place,” Ellison said. “So now to see it dressed up, it’s really special.”