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James W. Sanders Memorial Stadium

Old football stadium renamed the James W. Sanders Memorial Stadium

James W. SandersAt the behest of nearly 200 alumni, the Board of Education renamed the old football stadium at 64thStreet and S. 101 E. Avenue the James W. Sanders Memorial Stadium in honor of the influential teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator who served Union from 1958 until 1976.

January 18, Pat (Gotcher) Harris, Class of 1965, presented to the Board a petition signed by 179 alumni who graduated from Union in 1936 through 1976, requesting the stadium that their teams used be named in honor of Sanders.

A renaming committee appointed by Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler and chaired by Senior Executive Director of Communications Gretchen Haas-Bethell included Board of Education President Patrick Coyle, PTA Council member Myra Golden, UCTA member and 9th grade teacher Arynn Biggs, USPA member and Senior Transportation Lead Frank Brazwell, Associate Athletics Director Steve Dunlap, and High School senior Miranda Morrison, a member of the Student Council and Union Highsteppers.

Committee members reviewed the petition and Sanders’ biography. Not only were they impressed with Sanders’ coaching success—a record five District Football Championships and Union’s first State Football Championship in 1963—but they also noted his strong character and leadership.

A quote from Harris resonated with the committee. She wrote, “We all remember the man who taught us how to win, not just in sports, but also in life.” Apparently, James W. Sanders was an early example of what Union students, parents, and employees now characterize as “The Union Way.” The committee’s decision was unanimous.

Alumni paid up to $1,200 for a plaque to display at the stadium. Any leftover funds will be added to the $500 scholarship the group will award to a 2016 Union graduate through the Union Schools Education Foundation. (See below.)

Represented by 1965 Union High School graduate, Pat Gotcher Harris, the “Union Redskins Forever” alumni persuaded the Board of Education to name Union’s old stadium, southeast of 61st Street and Mingo Road, in honor of James W. Sanders this year.  Sanders was a highly respected teacher, administrator and football coach who led Union to its first state football championship in 1963. 

Before the Broken Arrow  football game, alumni gathered at the old stadium for a tour and pictures. They formally presented the plaque to Superintendent Dr. Hartzler during halftime at the Union/Broken Arrow football game on September 2, 2016.


Pictured, left to right, are: High School counselors Antonio Graham and Amanda Stuckey, Principal John Chargois, Union alum Patricia Harris, senior Carlos Barrios, and Head Football Coach Kirk Fridrich.

Carlos Barrios recipient of first-ever James W. Sanders Memorial Scholarship

Union senior Carlos Barrios, son of Antonio Gardea and Betzabe Perez of Tulsa is the first-ever recipient of the James W. Sanders Memorial Scholarship. He received the $1,000 scholarship Wednesday at the Union Collegiate Academy.

Barrios, an offensive lineman for the state-championship Union Redskins Football team, received the scholarship from Union alum Patricia (Gotcher) Harris, who was a cheerleader when the late James Sanders was football coach for Union.

The scholarship was available for players, managers, and trainers. Applicants must have a 2.7 GPA and have taken the ACT in order to be considered, explained Union Career Pathways Coach Antonio Graham, who has also been active with the football team. Barrios plans to attend Oklahoma State University and major in the medical field. He would love to be a doctor someday.

Sanders was a highly respected teacher, administrator and football coach who led Union to its first state football championship in 1963, Harris said, saying he was known for his strong character and leadership.

Last year, Harris and nearly 180 alumni led an effort approved by the Board of Education to rename the old football stadium at 64th Street and S. 101 E. Avenue the James W. Sanders Memorial Stadium in honor of the man who served Union from 1958 until 1976. A special dedication of the stadium was held last fall.