Those names roll off of my tongue like the staccato of a Tommy gun.
All of these individuals and images have one thing in common…they stood inside of the quiet, quaint, worn facility nestled in a west-side residential area cornered by W. 5th, W.6th, Western Ave., Johnson Street, and Pleasant Street in Waterloo, Iowa.
To some, it’s a run-down stadium. That’s what some out-of-town schools and fans referred to it as. That’s true, but that excuse was used to deflect fear from the raucous and passionate crowd from across the field.
To those in the Cedar Valley, namely to the residents of Waterloo, it is simply known as Sloane Wallace Stadium.
The ol’ girl is showing her age. That’s not a bad thing. It’s symbolizes how important she is to the good folks of Waterloo. The memories, the history, and the stories that continue to be told over and over.
Last week, Jim Sullivan of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier wrote a three-part series on Sloane Wallace’s glorious past, its current status at the home for soccer and Gilbertville Don Bosco High’s home football field, and it’s future.
Growing up, I listened to KWLO, KCFI (now KCNZ), and KBBG to hear the Trojans, Wahawks, Sailors and Tigers. Kerry Burt (yes, that Kerry Burt) of the Wahawks and Taras Walker of Columbus would run to the left, run to the right, and run up the middle on Sloane Wallace’s beautiful manicured, never sloppy green field. The drainage system, according to urban legend, was so good, it was scary.
What was noticeable was that there was no track surrounding the field. It used to be, but it was all cinder.
I was born into a family of East Trojans. Four of my uncles were wrestlers. A few of them were coached by Dave Natvig. My dad, who was a native of Texas, came to the Cedar Valley in 1972, to attend college at UNI. There wasn’t a day go by if he wasn’t hearing a story about a certain football team who hasn’t lost a game for six years (East), a certain wrestling team that haven’t tasted defeat since 1968 (West), and a wrestler who nabbed a gold medal, without surrendering a point (Dan Gable). That was unheard of. But that was the “Waterloo” way.
October 29, 1993 marked the final home game for my senior class. It was also the final game for East at Sloane Wallace. Earlier in the year, after several years of debate, it was announced that both East and West will play in a new facility out by Central Middle School (formerly Central High).
That night we played Dubuque Wahlert. After a thrilling win over West, a heart-breaking loss at the gun to Dubuque Senior, and a homecoming loss to Cedar Falls, we were not going to leave the ol’ girl with another loss. With :32 left in the game, score tied 20-20, Wahlert set up for a FG. They made it and won the game 23-20.
Personally, it was the worst feeling in the world. It felt like we let the east side down, and the city down. There should have been a joyous send-off, not another crushing last-minute loss.
Today, Don Bosco High of Gilbertville and the soccer teams at East and West call Sloane Wallace home. As long as Sloane Wallace is still in use, the wrecking ball will not be swinging any time.