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Franklin Simpson High School Field House Ribbon Cutting

Athletic field house dedicated

BY BRIAN HANCOCK
EDITOR@FRANKLINFAVORITE.COM

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 3:38 PM CST

Just call it a village reunion.Former Franklin-Simpson football star and current collegiate coach Joker Phillips came home to Franklin Friday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the brand new Joe “Joker” Phillips Field House with his family, friends, ex-teammates, and members of the community. Around 3:30 Friday afternoon, a large contingent gathered in and around the new facility to celebrate the effort spent to make it a reality. Several members of the school system had the opportunity to speak, as well as Phillips himself.“This blows me away,” he said. “I’ve been honored in a lot of ways, but this one takes it.”

He said that the location of the building in part made the dedication so special.
“This sits on a place where I shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” he said.

Those who placed it were far more important to him than where it was placed, though. Phillips credited the Franklin-Simpson school system, and thanked all those mentors who guided him through his high school years.

“I am proud to be an extension of them — of the parents, coaches and teachers,” he said.

The contract for the Field House was originally approved in September of 2012. The construction work on the facility commenced in September 2013, and it was essentially completed at the end of December 2013.

It has been open for use for the past few months, and already over 75 percent of the school’s athletes have used the facility, according to head football coach Doug Preston. All Franklin-Simpson athletic teams may use the Field House.

“For years to come, this facility will be a great thing for kids to have,” said Coach Preston.

The construction of the Field House was one piece of a larger sports facilities renovation project.

“This project was part of an effort to restore our existing stadium that is an icon and source of pride in our community. By vacating the people spaces underneath the stadium, we were able to make the needed structural improvements so it will stand strong for years to come,” said Superintendent Jim Flynn in an email to the Franklin Favorite. “Not only did this plan maintain our beautiful stadium, but we were able to make these improvements for a much lower cost than replacing the stadium or restoring the stadium.”

Construction of the Field House was a collaborative effort between the school district, design team, construction management team, and the Franklin-Simpson Quarterback Club. The Simpson County Detention Center was a key contributor as well, said Flynn.

The project was truly a community effort, and Phillips acknowledged it in his speech.

“This thing is not mine,” he said. “This is Franklin’s. This is ours.”

Both of Franklin-Simpson’s past two football coaches expressed their appreciation for Phillips’ role in the community.

“To have an ambassador like Joker Phillips on your side is wonderful,” said Franklin-Simpson High School principal and former head football coach Tim Schlosser. “He always wanted to give back to this community and to this football program.”

Preston echoed the thoughts, and spoke of Phillips’ geniality.

“Joker has always been nice to me,” he said. “He has always recognized me and my kids.”

Joker Phillips is not the only name to be associated with the new facility. The late Ricky Mooneyhan, who worked for over 30 years as the athletic trainer for Franklin-Simpson High School and played a large part in the building’s construction, has had its training room named in his honor. It will be called the Ricky Mooneyhan Training Room.

“Ricky was truly proud of this facility, and I’m really glad his name is on this thing also,” said Phillips.

“This stands with his memory,” said Flynn. “It will always be with us.”

After all had finished speaking, everyone took their places for the official ribbon cutting ceremony. With the setting sun casting shadows in the late afternoon, Phillips took the scissors and, with the whole community smiling behind him, cut the ribbon to officially open the brand new, state of the art, Joe “Joker” Phillips Field House. The placement of the scene was fitting, as the community stood between Phillips and the building.

“I had a great time here,” he said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. This village raised me.”

“The village is still proud of him,” said Steve Thurmond.

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