Turf construction strains spring sports

Krista Mehrl, Views Editor

Many students, especially athletes, have been getting excited for the new astro-turf that is going to be installed on the stadium football field. While I could debate about how our district can’t afford frivolous $1.3 million purchases, I’m not going to. I see no problem with turf – in fact, it improves the speed and play of sports such as football and soccer. Even the marching band is sure to fall in love with the lush faux shoots. It requires less maintenance and looks more professional. The problem lies in when it is being installed.

The turf is scheduled to be put in this spring. The only spring sport that utilizes the football stadium field is Girls Soccer. That means that the soccer girls have to move to a different field, most likely the football practice field directly behind the stadium. The grass there is choppy and even non-existent in some spots. Since that field is used for daily practices, the painted stripes will wear out quickly. To top it off, there isn’t ample bleacher space or even any bleachers at all. There will be no press box or scoreboard, which makes it equally hard for the spectators and the players on the field. No one will know how much time is left in the game. As a player, I know how frustrating that can be when you’re down one goal nearing the end of the second half.

Even though soccer may be the only sport that plays directly on the field, Boys and Girls Track will be affected just as much, if not to a greater extent. The construction on the stadium field will temporarily put the track out of use, as equipment will likely be blocking it off. Since there isn’t another track at West besides the one indoors in the field house, there is speculation that the teams may have to travel to Memorial Stadium for practice and meets. If that’s the case, time that could be spent practicing will be wasted by travel time just to get to the stadium. Bus transit will have to be provided for those that don’t have a license or a car, ultimately costing the district even more money.

Instead of installing the turf while sports are still in season, construction should be started in the summer, when the field is not being used for anything other than summer camps. It’s much easier for a kids’ camp to relocate than for an entire varsity-level high school team to travel to different accommodations. If West wants to try to cultivate the little amount of school spirit that it has, installing turf during a season that normally attracts a good fan base is not a profitable move.