By Jennifer Eisenbart
Friday will be a night of untested ground for Burlington High School and football.
As the school welcomes in new head coach Steve Tenhagen for his first game – against Racine Case at home at 7 p.m. – the school will also be presented the newly renamed “Don Dalton Stadium.”
The stadium was officially renamed for the former BHS coach and athletic director earlier this summer. Dalton has been honored by several state and national groups, including the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association.
While school district policy had to be worked around to allow the naming – the policy states that, in general, nothing will be named after a person until the person has been deceased for at least 10 years – the enthusiasm for Dalton and his work at BHS was never questioned.
“I am really excited,” Hans Block – a former BHS coach and one of those involved in the stadium effort – said. “Just to have Don coming back is really huge. His entire family is coming into town.”
The former coach said at least 100 former players are slated to come back for the event, and the community support he has seen has been impressive as well.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people, and a lot of people are going to come,” Block added. “We got a huge amount of support for the project.
“It’s been fun.”
The two-day event will run as follows:
• 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Friday: Meet and Greet with Don Dalton in the BHS cafeteria with snacks and light hors d’oeuvres, with an official welcome by Chris Miller at 6 p.m.
• 7 p.m. Friday night: Kickoff of the game between Case and BHS. There will be a five-minute ceremony/presentation at halftime.
• Postgame social at the Aurora Wellness Center until 11:30 p.m. with pizza, beer and wine. Guest speakers will be Block and Dan O’Brien.
• 8:30 to 9 a.m. Saturday: coffee and continental breakfast at BHS cafeteria with Dalton and Bill Kazmaier – a former BHS player who went on to earn the title of World’s Strongest Man.
• 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Guest speaker Kazmaier followed by a Q&A with Dalton in the BHS auditorium.
The fundraising effort to support the stadium renaming began in early July, as soon as the Burlington Area School District School Board approved the name change. Facing a strict deadline, the group needed to raise about $7,500 in a week, and a total of $15,000.
Chris Weidert said Tuesday that the group ended up raising roughly $19,000. He said the additional money would go back to BHS athletics, though he didn’t know specifics yet.
New BHS coach Steve Tenhagen said the evening was something he was looking forward to, having been a part of Dalton’s 200th victory as a coach in Dalton’s final year of coaching.
“If I were still at Delavan, I wouldn’t be able to come,” said Tenhagen.
Block was thrilled for what he thought would be an exciting weekend.
“It’ll be a night to remember – that’s what we’re hoping,” Block said.