Beyond the Playbook: Walt Hunting Stadium at Marv Heikkinen Field
The former Public Schools stadium has a new name to honor the history and legacy of those who have made history on the field.
The Walt Hunting Stadium at Marv Heikkinen Field is the almost 100 year old stadium’s new name. The decision to name it after two longtime teachers and coaches at Denfeld came after the astounding work that Walt Hunting and Marv Heikkinen did while employed.
In an unveiling ceremony on Friday evening, Marv Heikkinen, administrators, current athletes, alumni, Hunting’s grandsons and the community came together to honor the deep history of the field.
As the first ever football coach for Denfeld High School, Walt Hunting in his first season in 1927 brought the team to victory after being undefeated and outscoring opponents 131-12. He also made history by starting a black running back nearly 40 years before integration.
The success that Hunting brought to Denfeld did not go unnoticed. This is where the name ‘Denfeld Hunter’s’ came from. In 1935 as the football team would head to the field, students would yell “here comes Hunting’s Hunters.” The name stuck, as now Denfeld will remain the Hunter’s.
Walt Hunting died at the age of 57 after losing his battle to lung cancer.
The other man in the mix, is Marv Heikkinen. He is known to many as a beloved teacher and coach. His fame was established as a football coach from 1971 to 1983. He coached the Hunters to two northern Minnesota championship games in ’74 and ’75 and state tournament berths in ’79 and ’82, according to the Denfeld Alumni Assocaition website. He is tied with Hunting for most wins.
Heikkinen taught social studies and created some of the classes that are still taught at the school today.
Those honored at the stadium are not just Denfeld legends, but legends from past athletes hwo have made their mark on the field. This includes athletes from the old Central High School and Cathedral just to name a couple.