Community Plans Construction of Press Box in Coach Lee’s Name


The John E. Lee Press Box is set for construction in June 2013 (Photo/FWCAC).

Jake Moser

The John E. Lee Press Box is set for construction in June 2013 (Photo/FWCAC).


Think back to the year 1980.  Most people recall the Iranian hostage crisis, the brutal murder of John Lennon, or even the Miracle on Ice in the Winter Olympics; however, Walpolians had their attention fixed on the high school football team and their fearless head coach, John Lee.  Even to this day, Walpole residents, both old and young, speak of John E. Lee and his herculean achievements.  In his 25 years as coach at Walpole High School, “General Lee” boasted an unearthly record of 212-33-7, giving him an astounding winning percentage of .855, along with 11 BSL Championship titles, 1 State Championship, and 4 Super Bowl victories.  Beyond that, what really separates Lee from the rest of history’s successful coaches are the core values and work ethic that he instilled in all his players over the years, helping these young men prosper and succeed in college and the working world.

Hence, in honor of our town’s famed football coach former players, the Walpole High School Gridiron Boosters, Friends of Walpole Community Athletic Complex (FWCAC), and other donators have begun a project to raise a structure in Coach Lee’s name at Turco Field.  “Coach Lee is a legend in high school football,” said Shannon Lestan, one of those in charge of the project.  “He also instilled great values in the young men he coached and taught them to respect themselves, others, and the game itself.”

Coach Lee providing some on-field advice (Photo/FWCAC).

The coalition plans on building a press box on the hill opposite the bleachers for in-game commentary and filming of the various sports teams that make use of John Turco Field at WHS.  Although football boosters and former football players are spearheading the project, other sports teams—both at the high school level and youth level alike—will benefit from the structure.  Not only will our town’s freshman, junior varsity, and varsity football teams be able to make use of the John E. Lee Press Box, but also the  teams for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and track/field can utilize the building during their own games as well.  Also, there are  numerous youth sports programs that will have the opportunity to utilize the press box while they make use of the track and field complex.

The coalition has been working with  local Walpole architect Kevin Uniacke and General Contractor Kevin Heayden to develop the plans and scope of work to build the press box.  Depending on their ability to get labor and materials donated, the estimated cost of the project is $124,665, so they are calling on the Walpole community to help raise the necessary funds.  Through both collected and pledged donations, the current funds raised for the project are $83,691, roughly 67% of the way there (numbers as of 11/26/12).  After they reach the target amount for the project, the coalition plans to begin construction next June with a dedication ceremony in the fall.

As for the press box itself, the plan is to construct a 32-by-10 foot structure containing three seperate rooms with their own entrances.  “The press box will be used by both the home and away coaching staff in addition to the filming crews,” according to Lestan.  “Other events such as the Relay for Life that take place at Turco field can televise their events through the Walpole Cable Station, who will be able to broadcast events from the press box.”  The press box will also be handicap accessible, roof access for filming outdoors,as well as a cable hook-up and protection from the elements for the broadcast crew and coaches.  Currently those people must sit outside to announce or film the games, so a little protection from the elements will go a long way.

Walpole athletics have always been successful throughout the years, and a vast majority of that success is due to Coach John E. Lee and the values he instilled in not only our football team and high school, but also in our town as a whole.  “Coach Lee worked hard day in and day out at mastering the game of football and demanded a lot from himself physically.  He gave 100% of himself and expected 100% from the other coaches and players,” Lestan said, and she’s not alone in her thinking.  “He is a huge part of our town pride and I’m glad we are finally honoring a person as important to this community as Coach Lee,” said current senior Walpole High School student-athlete Mike Rando.  So, along with the track and field complex, the addition of lights, and the new scoreboard, the new press box will hopefully add more meaningful experiences for the young athletes of our town—both at high school and youth levels.

If you would like to learn more about the project, donate to their cause, or learn more about Coach Lee  more information is available on the official website.  Also, if you would like to send in a message for Coach Lee, it will be used in the dedication ceremony.