Setting the stage for Friday night football, Hollywood style

By: Nick McGurk Email
By: Nick McGurk Email

High school football season means a lot of things to a lot of people. Students -- from players to band members to cheerleaders -- practice daily so they can perform under Friday night lights.

But one man is out on the field all week to prepare it. And you could say his dedication to Riley is as great as any of the students.

"My official job title's mechanic's helper,” the man says.

If his job title doesn't quite seem to fit, that’s because his real title is just one word. His name is Hollywood.

Oh, and by the way -- don't try to guess his real name, because Hollywood won't tell you.

Just take a look at his nametag or his tattooed arm, and trust that his nickname from when he was a DJ in the 1980's stuck for a reason.

Most days you can find Hollywood mowing Jackson Field (where Riley plays). Some might think it's a monotonous job.

"To me it's my baby," says Hollywood.

"I'm single, I stay at home by myself, my kids are all grown up so I put all my time and effort into this," he adds.

The football team doesn't dare practice on Jackson field. After all, the field is only for games.

"Opposing coaches will come in and marvel at how good the field is. And compared to all the other fields they play on, this is the best one that they play on every year,” says Riley football coach Jim Berger.

"It's gotta be one of the top fields, I’d say in the nation,” says one Riley player.

Actually, it is. Thanks to Hollywood, Jackson Field has been voted one of the top 20 fields in the country three times by Pioneer Athletics, a sports paint company.

But take a look around Hollywood's adopted home -- a building next to the bleachers -- and it's clear this place is more than just a shed to keep his things. It's also clear Jackson Field is more than just a place to mow. Come Friday night, Hollywood steps off the field as a landscaper, and he drives on the field as a motivator.

"He had his hair painted the other night for the Riley-Washington game,” says John Kennedy, assistant principal at Riley.

“Hollywood will come on his little cart with his flag, his 'Go Riley' flag, and he tries to get the crowd back in the game, and I like that, that makes us wanna play harder too,” says a Riley player.

That is what keeps him going, Hollywood says: a give and take with the kids epitomized by one Friday night memory.

"The next thing that I hear is that they're chanting my name, ‘Hollywood’, over and over, and it just emotionally got to me, you know, I mean, it's like, I get goosebumps just talking about it now,” says Hollywood.

One regular season game is left for Riley, and nobody knows what memories will be made. But when the show is high school football, and the scene is Jackson Field, you better believe the perfect man to set the stage goes by the name of Hollywood.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 104989594 -