The virgin Astroturf is springy underfoot, and the neon yellow goalposts stretch up into the blue September sky. The Comets should be playing well.
After seven years of away games, the football team at Cody High School in Detroit has its own field. The facility at Cody was in such terrible shape that they couldn't play there.
That changed Friday night. Unfortunately, the Comets' homecoming did not start well.
At halftime, the score was 0-0. They were playing against their archrivals from Henry Ford High School, which was supposed to be an inferior team.
Coach Calvin Norman dressed down his all-volunteer assistant coaches, telling them not to blame the players. Team captain Jayvonte Ball was disappointed in his teammates, exhorting them to "play like we want it."
"The people who made the field worked harder than us," he says. "They worked way harder than us. Come on, you gotta wake up, man."
A Fundraising Field Goal
Ball is right — it was hard work to raise nearly a million dollars for the field. It almost didn't happen.
Chris Lambert is the CEO of Life Remodeled, the group in charge of an ambitious volunteer makeover of Cody High School and its surrounding neighborhoods. He says a new football field was a priority, but they were still $300,000 short the day fundraising ended.
"Forty-five minutes before I get on stage, a family comes up to me and says, 'Do you still need that $300,000?' "
They got out their checkbook. Lambert says he expected them to want it named Walrich Field after their family, but they had something else in mind.
"Name it 'Hope Field'," they said.
A Comeback For The Comets
When halftime ended, the Cody Comets charged back out.
Maybe it was the stern speeches by the coach and captain.
Maybe it was the appeal by Senior Pastor Bob Shirock, whose Oak Pointe Church in suburban Novi, Michigan, has adopted Cody High: "We pray the world would hear that Detroit is rising from the ashes, and that stories like Cody would prove that."
Whatever it is, the Comets came out a different team. They quickly scored. And scored again, and again and again.
Those corny movies about a team picking itself up and coming back to win? This was just like that. The Comets ended up winning the game 24-0.
And just like that, a field named Hope earned its name.
You can hear Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton report on the Life Remodeled massive neighborhood and high school makeover at Cody here.