CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - FirstEnergy gave Cleveland youth players the opportunity to experience playing their first game under stadium lighting Saturday night.
The Illuminating Company, a FirstEnergy utility, donated four lights similar to the ones seen at FirstEnergy Stadium, and installed them at Browder Field in Cleveland.
Twenty Illuminating Company employees donated their time to install the lights and finished the project in ten hours, according to spokesperson Mark Durbin.
"This is a real special night for us but probably an even better night for those kids playing under the lights," Durbin said.
Head coach of the Renegades Michael Hardaway says football is more than just a game at Browder Field.
"This is an escape from the world they live in, from everything that's going on around them. When they step on this field we escape for two hours, three hours," Hardaway said.
Hardaway, who calls his players his sons, said he has a special bond with the team and the players second that.
"They're like second fathers to me," said Charles Rosser, an eighth grader at Beachwood Middle School.
"Coaches tell me how to do everything," said Damarr Howell, a ninth grader at Jane Adams.
Hardaway said the new lights offer more than a chance for his kids to shine on the field. The lights give them a chance to shine in the community, which for many of them, happens to be the east side of Cleveland.
He said the lights highlight young people succeeding on and off the field and overcoming the obstacles in their neighborhoods that often claim their peers.
"This neighborhood, the streets sometimes can be unforgiving," Hardaway said. "When these lights come on it brings the whole community together."