Tuesday, June 13 marked the official opening of the Sgt. John Faught Fieldhouse beside the track and field facility at Superior Heights Collegiate.
A Sault Ste. Marie native, Sgt. John Wayne Faught of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was 44-years-old when he was killed by an improvised explosive device Jan. 16, 2010 during a security foot patrol south of Kandahar City in Afghanistan.
A career soldier, he had also served in Bosnia and Croatia.
As a teen, he attended the former Bawating Collegiate, where Superior Heights is now situated, known as a strategic player for the school’s Bawating Braves football team.
The dream of developing a memorial for Faught on the former Bawating Collegiate site came from his mother, the Sault’s Donna Crosson.
Crosson said the Fieldhouse brings a smile to her face.
“It’s just so fitting for him (because Faught was an athlete), so we’re very, very happy.”
“It brings a little happiness to our hearts knowing that he will be remembered long after we are gone. Any students who come here, they’ll hear what the story was behind the Fieldhouse, and they’ll know,” Crosson said after an official ribbon cutting ceremony.
“John was a very, very quiet type of fellow, he never liked a lot of fanfare but he would be very proud that we did this, not just for him but for all the soldiers of Canada,” Crosson said.
Crosson and Shawna Faught, Sgt. Faught’s sister, addressed an audience of Algoma District School Board (ADSB) administrators, staff and students from the balcony of the Fieldhouse’s second storey, known as the Steelhawks Nest.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everybody who showed up today,” Crosson said.
Several Faught relatives and friends travelled from elsewhere in northern Ontario, southern Ontario and Pennsylvania to attend the ceremony.
“It is with great pride that we stand here today on this beautiful new field and newly built fieldhouse, which happens to be on the very ground that my brother and I walked, I was a cheerleader, he was a football player in our old Bawating high school days,” said Shawna Faught.
“The loss of my brother will forever be etched on our hearts as one of the worst days in our lives…it is on days like these, however, that we are reminded of how much people care and remember our fallen loved ones.”
“It fills the whole family with pride that the city of Sault Ste. Marie has done a wonderful job of remembering his sacrifice.”
Faught was praised as a natural leader, both on the football field and the battlefield.
“I remember hearing the news of his death, how hard it hit,” said Lieutenant Colonel Lance Knox, commander of the 49th (Sault Ste. Marie) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery.
“I did not know Sgt. Faught, I never met him, but yet I feel comfortable speaking today because we share some common background. Like him I once was a Sergeant, and like him I went to Afghanistan, and I know the town where he was killed.”
“From what I do know, his soldiers are better for having known him,” Knox said.
“Sgt. Faught was a good leader. He was a good sergeant. He was a protector, and like all good leaders he wouldn’t ask his troops to do something he wouldn’t do.”
“The padre at his ramp ceremony at Kandahar airfield said he was a leader who led from the front. I know that as a good leader you look after your soldiers. If anything bad is to happen, you want it to happen to you, not to your troops,” Knox said.
Construction of the Fieldhouse, with change rooms for sports teams and a concession stand on its ground floor and a media room and balcony on its second floor, was made possible through the help of the Algoma District School Board and generous donations from many local businesses and individuals, whose names are listed on a large plaque on the building’s east wall.
The Sgt. John Faught Fieldhouse project was launched in 2014, and construction of the building began on the building last year.
Construction wrapped up two weeks ago, the structure built primarily by ADSB students employed by SalDan Developments Ltd.
It will be used by secondary school athletes, as well as athletes from Algoma University’s soccer program and other soccer groups, as well as the Sault Sabercats football team.