What used to be a mess of grass and mud, the soccer field at Chapman Elementary School in Northwest Portland transformed in just six months to a pristine artificial surface for the entire community.
Sunday marked the field’s dedication in the name of late Chapman 5th Grade teacher Steve Brand, who passed away on Christmas Eve due to complications brought on by cancer.
Brand, whose class windows overlooked the field, served as an inspiration for many teachers, students and community members through his positive attitude and strength. An entry arch with his name and the epitaph, “When I die, give what’s left of me to the children,” now adorns the field’s northeast entrance.
“In his name, not only have we given this field to the children, but we’ve given it to the entire community,” said Hillside Soccer Club president Craig Rusch.
With donations from the Portland Timbers, adidas, families and community foundations, the $250,000 campaign — which began in April — was completed in time for the Hillside Soccer Club jamboree on Sunday as hundreds of kids christened the new field and poured into adjoining Wallace Park for games.
“They (sponsors) provide more than financial support,” Rusch said. “They provide funds for our scholarship programs, exciting opportunities to participate in clinics with professional players and allow us to participate in on-field activities at the Timbers games, and we get really cool new green uniforms.”
After Steve’s passing, fellow teachers and friends tried to brainstorm a fitting tribute to honor the former soccer player and coach.
“We were really looking for something that would be the appropriate thing (to celebrate Steve’s life),” said Hillside Soccer Club head coach Tim Loy. “It (the field dedication) was really the inspiration of (Chapman music teacher) Reed Clark. Everybody said it was really fitting, a really nice connection.”
The field will be utilized by Chapman Elementary School students for recess and physical education classes, Hillside Soccer Club’s home field, Lincoln Little League Baseball, community members and the Audubon Society of Portland’s swift watchers, which observe the annual migration of swifts each September.
“This community came together with a vision to create this field,” said Myndi Brand, Steve’s wife who cut the ceremonial ribbon with daughters Ruby and Charlotte. “This field will stand as a legacy to Steve Brand: A father, teacher, husband, mentor, friend and coach. This field will also stand as a testimony to this community for all of its generosity, goodness and hard-fought efforts.”