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East Grand Forks football enjoying fancy new digs

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The new Green Wave football locker room facility includes a 25-foot football mural spanning the length of a main hallway as shown on Wednesday afternoon. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald 2 / 2

When Ryan Kasowski heard that plans were in the works to have the metal building east of East Grand Forks Senior High demolished, Kasowski had a different vision.

Rather than green space, he saw it as a home for Green Wave football.

The metal building, built in 1997 after the Red River's flood resulted in a need for more classroom space and later converted into a weight-lifting facility, is still standing. It is now the posh locker room for the Senior High football team.

"The building was going to be torn down and grass was going to be planted in the spot,'' Kasowski, the head football coach of the Green Wave football team, said. "As soon as we learned about it three years ago, I thought it could be a football locker room.

"We felt we could get it done without any financial help from the school district. That was the big thing. I had a vision. And it probably turned out better than I was hoping it would.''

After the project received approval from the school board, Kasowski went on to work.

Funding was the initial objective. Kasowski said the football team raised about $30,000 in donations from approximately 85 entities—businesses and individuals—to pay for the locker room. "We got the donations for the last lockerroom just a few weeks ago,'' he said.

"It was a lot of people helping out, people who cared about the football program. When they found out we were on our own, that we weren't going to taxpayers or asking the school for money, I think they were more willing to help.''

The biggest expense was the player lockers—70 of them at $360 per unit for a $25,200 expenditure. Chairs, carpeting and televisions also were donated. The finished, all-carpeted facility now includes:

• A head coach's office;

• A coaches' meeting room with a television where game films are broken down;

• A large locker room with two large TVs. The name of the donor is on a plate on the top of each locker;

• A team meeting room with rows of chairs, each with the Green Wave logo embroidered on the seat;

• A Green Wave football mural painting covering a 25-foot hallway.

Much of the work was done by Kasowski and assistant coaches Matt Palmiscno and Dane Kjono, with some help from other coaches, the athletes and the school's buildings and grounds crew.

"We were in here working every day for the last five months, grinding away,'' Kasowski said. "We tore down some temporary walls, we cleaned everything, we painted. It was a lot of work.''

There are no showers in the facility. "That was too expensive,'' Kasowski said. "If kids want to shower, they have to go across (the parking lot) to the gym locker room.''

That was the former home for the Green Wave football players. With small lockers and limited space, Kasowski said the football team had outgrown that facility.

Kasowski said he hopes the football program can grow with the new facility.

"It's all about getting kids to come out and play,'' Kasowski said. "We wanted to show kids we'll go the extra mile for them. I think this will be huge for our football program.''