Home renovations have become the latest rage in recent years and soccer fields are no exception.
Over the past decade, high schools with older stadiums have done renovations and repairs to not only improve the player experience, but the fan experience as well.
In addition, the change from turf to turf is a great benefit not only for football, but also for other sports and the community.
Last summer Ada, Bath and Delphos (coaches talk about new turf in previews) all added turf to their pitches for this purpose and expect the trend to continue.
Four Western Buckeye League teams currently have turf and four Northwest Conference teams will all have turf and each of these schools sees major benefits from adding fake turf.
Bath head football coach Ryan Reindel is excited to make the transition from grass to grass. Discussions about the change in Bath took place around eight months ago, as Cam Staley, athletic director and Rich Dacken, superintendent, worked with the Bath School Board to bring the project to fruition.
“I think the benefits for turf are the organization of the practice, but how that benefits each program,” Reindel said. “The soccer team will be participating and in the spring the baseball and softball teams will be able to use it. We don’t have to worry about the rain.
“We have seven games this year on the grass with two of our away games on the grass and then five at home, but you still need to be able to train on our grass to get used to these fields we play on Friday. evening for the most part we went to the grass.
Reindel said this is a trend and other schools are making the transition.
At Ada, Principal Dan Lee echoed what Reindel said was one of the reasons Ada decided to make the switch to turf.
“I think we were just excited about the broad grassroots impact this will have on our community and the multiple extracurricular activities,” Lee said. “One thing we really wanted to address was having our football facility to a high standard and being able to know that there is a high quality advertisement, seats, lighting and thing and that benefits football and that is a good thing for our group to play on and it is also something that speaks to schools in the area, it is a benefit for their softball and baseball programs.
“We are delighted with how it turned out. We think it looks pretty sharp.
The renovation of Wapakoneta
Wapakoneta is one of the schools that was early in adding sod when it did so in 2010 and then did it again in 2020.
“We wanted a multi-surface place to play where we didn’t have to worry about the weather,” said Redskin athletic director Brad Rex. “It was used by our high school, our midget football, so the dirt field was torn up every year and at that time we were still having playoff games so you could see they were moving the playoff games to the field. turf so an added incentive was that if we get that we will have playoff games that we are lucky to have. ”
In addition to the turf, Wapakoneta has renovated its stands and press rooms in 2020, while continuing to be proactive in its approach to establish one of the best stadiums in the region.
“We worked on the stadium project when Mike Watt was the sporting director and he’s still there as the commercial director, so he was instrumental in that,” Rex said. “He worked and worked and worked to make this stadium project.
“It was sort of phased. We put the locker room, the wrestling building over there, ”Rex said. “We were looking to set up the wrestling building here at the high school and we got a price for it and it was pretty high.”
Rex then consulted with Coldwater and Cavalier athletic director Eric Goodwin, who had just completed a similar installation and to see how they approached the situation.
After getting a good feel for that he met the wrestling coaches who were okay with having him at the stadium and it was soon the turn of the wrestling hall / locker room building adjacent to the stadium. The building has a wrestling mat at all times of the year and a small weight room for wrestling teams. When it’s wrestling season, there are four stacks in there.
“It’s a nice setup for that and the locker rooms are just huge,” Rex said.
The next phase of the stadium renovation, initiated by Aaron Rex upon his return as superintendent, was to renovate the bathrooms on the visitors’ side of the stadium.
“He thought it was a sore in his eyes so he built the washroom and the concession stand and in the wrestling room / locker room we also put in an official’s room,” Rex said. “It was all there and no one had to walk to college. Although I thought it was kind of a beautiful tradition.
Then there was the overall stadium project which they knew would come at a high price and which they had tried several years ago to go all the way. But at that time, the YMCA and the Neil Armstrong Museum were fundraising, so Rex said they had delayed their plans.
After a two-year delay, Watt and Aaron Rex were back to give the stadium renovations a boost to make it happen. With the help of local businesses, they raised the necessary funds to undertake the arduous task of upgrading the stadium.
In addition to the bleachers being refurbished, a new enlarged press room has been erected which also houses a reception suite. The press box has 12 seats in the first row and nine in the rear in addition and there is a separate video room. Four suites have been added for sponsors and each can comfortably accommodate four to eight people and all have TVs and small refrigerators.
On the visitors’ side, five feet have been added to the press gallery.
Now that the projects are complete, Wapakoneta has one of the best places to play in the region.
“The feedback we are receiving is incredible,” said Brad Rex. “It’s a college-type atmosphere and we’ve had workers come to work here who have played in Division III schools saying it’s not nearly as enjoyable. Rex said. “Last year we had our stadium, but we really couldn’t show it with covid and all, so I’ll be excited to see what people say.”
Sodding benefits not only football but all sports such as soccer as well as baseball and softball which can be practiced there when the ground is saturated. In Wapakoneta, even wrestlers can take advantage of the grass for running and not be confined indoors.
“The turf has been so good for us,” said Brad Rex. “The kids in the community will go there and play. It’s good. We want them to be active. We want them to take care of it, but we want them to be active.
Another major benefit that schools see with turf is the cost. While it can be expensive to set up initially, long-term maintenance makes up for it.
“You spend a fair amount of money on gasoline, paint and maintenance in man hours to paint it, cut it and fertilize it, so in the long run we think we’re ahead financially,” Rex said. . ‘it took 20-25,000 a year in 2010 to maintain it, so the smart thing they did was put some money aside to replace the sod when it got old, so when we went replacing the sod this time, we had a good amount of money this time. ”
Ada is the last team to settle in War Memorial Park.
Allen East is also a team that used turf for their soccer field.