In an interview with Northeastern Athletic Conference commissioner Pat Guiliano earlier this summer, he made it clear that the conference prides itself on the schools having a close connection with the community.
Guiliano said that in many cases of the NAC's 11 schools, their athletic teams are a focal point of the community.
"It's a matter of being a conference that the schools are an integral part of the community," Guiliano said. "In many cases, the school district is a rallying point for the community, and a lot of the community's identity goes along with the school."
The Chalker Wildcats are a prime example of what Guiliano said.
Unfortunately for those die-hard fans, the athletic programs are experiencing a dry spell in terms of success. The last times a Chalker team made a deep run in a tournament came in 2000 when the baseball team made the state Final Four and in 1998 when the softball team brought home a Division III state title. In terms of individual success, Ryan Gilanyi was the last Wildcat to compete at state-wide competitions, finishing fifth and sixth in the Division III 1600-meter race at the state track and field meet in 2005 and 2006.
Although the success hasn't been there, the Southington community has plenty to be proud of the past couple of years, starting with the construction of a brand-new school, and just this past Saturday, the Southington school district opened up its renovated football complex to the community.
People came to see the town's young athletes be introduced at the stadium, which took two-and-a-half years to build, and the improvements in the stadium were easy to see. Instead of being a flat field, the grass had a slight bump in the middle to help out a new drainage system underneath, and an all-weather track replaced a cinder track to surround the football field.
New metal stands replaced the old wooden bleachers, and the blockhouse is now equipped with both home and away locker rooms, as well as public restrooms.
"We're a small community," Chalker athletic director Terry Kelly said. "We don't have a lot of extravagant things. This is one of the nicest things that we've been able to do with the money - to put up the brand-new school up on 534. Part of that money was dedicated to the remodeling of this facility."
With the Chalker fans' following for their athletes, the football team is hoping they will come out in droves when the new facility to host its first home game on Sept. 13 against Waterloo.
For a team that spent the last two seasons playing its home games at Windham, Hiram College and Mollenkopf Stadium, this will be the first time that many - if not all - of the varsity football players will experience a game in Southington.
"It's very special since these kids don't know what a home football game is like," Slone said. "This year, we finally get a home game, and since it's the first in three years, this community is hopefully going to be out in full force, and these kids will see what a true home game is like."
Knowing the fans, the Wildcats will step out onto the field to the roar from a large crowd.