Over 100 Years of Clipper Football
The first year of Columbiana football was 1916, when the “Red and White” – as they were known then – completed a 2-3 season under head coach and school principal, Byron McCready. The team practiced and played its games on East Park Avenue, across the street from the Harvey S. Firestone Recreational Park, where the “Clippers” – as they are known now — play to this day.
In the mid-1930’s, when Columbiana High School graduate, Harvey Firestone, gave funding and land to build an outdoor park for his beloved hometown, he included plans for a new football field and stadium for his alma mater.
Completed in 1936 by the WPA (Works Project Administration) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” it was constructed entirely of stamped concrete that still stands today, over 90 years later, in fairly good shape and with quite a nod to the workmanship of the day. In its era, it was one of very few outdoor stadiums not on a high-school campus.
A special feature at that time were two small concrete dressing rooms under the stadium, one at each end, for the varsity home team and visiting team to dress. These unique spaces were relegated as storage when a stand-alone locker room was built in the 1950’s for the home team. When the stadium was 20 years old, field lighting was installed and Friday-night football was born.
The 1970’s saw the wooden seats being torn out and replaced with aluminum seating, a sprinkler system installed and improvements made to the 100-yard grass playing field.
Many fine athletes have graced the field over the years, perhaps of most note, Dick Fisher. After an outstanding career at Columbiana High School, he went on to star at Ohio State University from 1939 – 41. It was during this era that the Columbiana High School football team got its Clipper nickname that stands to this day. The sports announcer who did the play-by-play for the Ohio State games, when Dick would make a good run, would say, “There goes the Columbiana Clipper, and the name stuck in honor of its famous alumnae.
Firestone Football Stadium, one of the park’s most unique landmarks from the past, has been home to countless varsity, junior varsity, junior-high, little-clipper and alumnae games over the decades.
In 2020, the Columbiana Exempted School District took over ownership of the stadium from the city of Columbiana, with plans to restore this historic structure, which has served its community well, with the hope that it will continue to do so for many decades to come.