Brian Polian admits to being a little jealous.
That’s because the field that bears the Polian family name at his high school alma mater, St. Francis, has lines, is level and doesn’t have slick mud to slow down players any more during games and practices.
St. Francis officially christened Polian Family Field with school president Fr. Michael Sajda blessing the surface before nearly 100 on-lookers, including members of Polian’s University of Nevada football team, which practiced after the christening in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s game at the University at Buffalo.
“When I was here it was just a grass field that turned to mud by Oct. 1,” said Polian, who like his younger brother Chris, both played for the Red Raiders. “There was no doubt this was necessary, especially in the climate of Catholic high schools where it’s such a challenge to keep your student population up. This needed to happen and I’m glad my family was a small part of it. This school means so much to us. The ability for it to stay open and to stay competitive and continue to give young men the opportunities we got it was important for us to find a way.”
The soft opening for the Polian Family Field -- part of a $4 million project that includes the construction of a building that will house locker rooms, coaches officies, concession stands and indoor and outdoor VIP seating areas -- comes a week before the grand opening. On Oct. 2, St. Francis plays its first home football game against defending state Catholic champion Canisius at 7 p.m.
“For St. Francis High School this is a big moment,” Sajda said. “We are eternally grateful to the Polian family, Bill and Eileen, for all the help they have given us along with the Gacioch family and one other alum who basically donated the bulk of the money for this field and the building we’re working on constructing.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, Brian's father, was unable to attend the ceremony due to work he does for ESPN as a football analyst. He is expected to be in town to watch his son's team play at UB Stadium on Saturday.
Longtime coach Jerry Smith and current players were impressed with the new digs and in awe of their new surroundings.
“To see the hard work that a lot of people and the generous donations that everybody has made to have this field and facility come about is a little bit overwhelming,” Smith said. “My 35th year here, it’s just amazing.”