Freshman weighs in on field controversy

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:02

Makes two much-viewed videos asking supporters of field project to make their opinion known SPARTA - The ongoing discussion and controversy about constructing a new multi-turf field for Sparta High School has motivated freshman and football player Jan Uczkowski to take action. The results are his widely-viewed YouTube videos entitled “Field of Dreams.” “I am on the field five days a week and the conditions are very frustrating. When we played against Pope John a few weeks ago, there was a mudslide - it was very dangerous,” said Uczkowski. “I knew there were meetings going on about the fields so I created a video to voice my opinion, seek help, and from this I was asked by officials of the town that back the same passion to create a part two to the video.” Although the Board of Education voted in favor of the new field earlier in the month, there are some opposing opinions that believe the leftover renovation money should be given back to the taxpayers in an estimated amount of about $200 per household. To further complicate the debate, a loophole has surfaced halting the project going forward because the town gave the land located behind the high school to the district but did not provide a deed. And deeds are needed for building permits. Uczkowski already has a captive audience on YouTube due to his professional acting career and for his Justin Beiber parody. In September, he was featured on the ABC television show 20/20 for his work with the Key of Awesome, a group of people who do parodies on music celebrities. “I wanted to get other people involved and maybe they would listen and know why this new field is so important. The videos make a difference.” His plea has received national attention. Filmed by his father and fellow strong supporter, Uczkowski is shown walking around the Sparta High School football field showing off its wear and tear, along with footage from a recent messy and muddy game. He then juxtaposes the image with a neighboring Vernon High School field which looks comparatively like it’s out of the NFL. He urges people to write to their local officials and provides contact information. Not only is there a buzz in town about Uczkowski’s efforts, but national acclaim is rolling in. A 15-year old contemporary from the Midwest reacted to the YouTube video by emailing New Jersey Senator Steve Oroho: “Would you rather have a community of high schoolers that result in 80 percent more drug use, misdemeanors, and other criminal injustice violations, or have a community of athletes, kids who enjoy using a football field, a track, tennis court, baseball field and much more? This is coming from a 15- year-old girl who lives in Illinois. Sparta High School students deserve better conditions.” In the Field of Dreams Part 2, Uczkowski wears a Sparta High School football hoodie and thanks his supporters. He goes deeper into the controversy and also focuses on making people to take a good look while he walks around the battered track and tennis courts of the high school. He ends his video at home base by asking “Who’s going to step up to the plate?” “I am probably going to make more videos. Our fields are horrible. We want this to be resolved in the best and positive way. The money is there. This is for the future - for the kids coming up,” he said. To see the videos, go to www.spartaindependent or and