Children rush to play at Father Frey Athletic Field

Local Soccer Field Transforms with Grant

The Holy Spirit Catholic Church Athletic Association (HSAA) received grant from the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund, a component fund of the St. Louis Community Foundation. The grant was used to repair an existing athletic field and update it to be a safe, sustainable athletic facility for local youth to participate in recreational soccer. 

Ribbon cutting at Father Frey Athletic field in September 2021.
Ribbon cutting at Father Frey Athletic field in September 2021. Photo and header photo by LJ Photography.

The Father Frey Athletic Field, which has served the community for over 50 years, has undergone considerable change in the past six months. Since breaking ground in March 2021, the field was regraded to fix an eight-foot slope and was replanted with Bermuda grass. New lights were installed and the field is now wheelchair accessible. Volunteers came together to power wash, sand, and repaint buildings and tables. 

“There’s been so much energy around this project and we already had a strong soccer program,” said John Nero, HSAA President. “It’s like a professional team getting a new sports stadium—it’s huge for us.” 

Upon completion in early September 2021, the field was blessed and dedicated by Fr. Bob Evans during a ribbon cutting ceremony. After the ceremony, approximately 60 children participated in a free training session before the inaugural first game on the field, which ended in a tie. 

“The field had not changed since I played softball on it in the early 90’s,” said Alissa Schulte, HSAA Vice President. “Now, not only is my child getting to play on the new field, it’s also people I grew up with and their children.” 

The regrading of the field has made a particular impression on HSAA staff, participants, and alumni alike. With a laugh, Schulte said, “This is a legacy—flat and beautiful for years to come!” 

Nero and Schulte both hope the field will serve the community in the long term. They envision a new lacrosse program in addition to the revitalized soccer program.  

Nero said, “I’m grateful to those who believed in our project and our vision for it as it came to reality. The field will be an asset to the children of the parish, school, and community.” 

The Bridgeton Fund was established in July 2018 with $12.5 million from a legal settlement between the State of Missouri and Republic Services, Allied Services, and Bridgeton Landfill, LLC. Per the terms of the settlement, the fund prioritizes nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations working or located within a four-mile radius of the Bridgeton Landfill. Grants from the fund support initiatives that contribute to the betterment of the environment, health, and safety of the communities within the area.