As most returning students know, artificial turf was installed in the football field over the summer. Construction started on May 17 and ended on Aug. 7, resulting in what many are calling a positive addition to the school.
Keeping up with the times is important, and seeing as a majority of Illinois high schools have artificial turf, assistant principal for student activities Robert Murphy agrees now was the right time for the change.
“About 95% of the teams that we compete against have a turf field and are practicing on a turf field. So when we practice on a grass field, we’re at a competitive disadvantage,” Murphy said.
In years past, football players didn’t practice on the main field for fear of damaging the grass before a game. The new turf is more resilient than regular grass and allows an extra practice field.
“Practicing on the turf gives you a better feel for the game,” sophomore Matt Anculis said. “Pretty much everyone [on the team] is liking the turf because it looks good and feels real nice.”
The consistency of a level surface also significantly reduces the risk of injury to players. There are a lot fewer grooves in the field.
Football players aren’t the only ones enjoying the new field. Marching band members, with whom they share the field, are generally having positive reactions.
“It’s a lot better to march on turf than terrain that’s not flat,” junior Melina Papadakis said. “The only negative side of the turf is that it does get really hot, especially in the afternoon.”
From a financial perspective, the switch to artificial turf was a smart choice. According to Murphy, the school is saving around $5,000 a year just on paint, let alone labor intensive acts like cutting the lawn and laying fertilizer.
“There’s a significant expense for labor and supplies,” Murphy said. “Now that we have turf, there’s very little maintenance that needs to be done with it.”
Major renovations won’t be needed for at least 10 to 12 years, and when they do come about, they won’t be as time consuming as the recent construction. The majority of the time spent over the summer was actually on building the water retention area under the field.
Since the school is so close to Salt Creek, the retention area needed to be bigger than those at most schools, ergo construction had to begin earlier. If construction had been put off until after graduation last year, the field would not have been ready in time for this year’s football season.
The field won’t go unused after the football season is over.
“PE classes gained a nice classroom facility. Marching band has the ability to go out there immediately after the rain. In the spring, the softball team could shag fly balls. The track team could run sprints.” Murphy said. “It’s quickly become the new normal.”