Turf At Last

The NA School Board has approved a $1.9 million budget to turf NAI's central field

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Turf At Last

photo by Lexie Vincenty

photo by Lexie Vincenty

photo by Lexie Vincenty

Nick Farabaugh, Sports Editor

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It finally occurred. Last month, the NA School Board approved a renovation of the NAI field that will cost $1.96 million. Most notable among the improvements is the installation of turf on NAI’s main playing field.

It was a long time coming for the field, as some coaches have been calling for turf to be added to the field for the better part of a decade. The old field had divots and was an injury hazard to players of all sports that practiced and competed on it.

“As a coach, the safety of players is our number one concern,”  Freshman Football Head Coach Bill Howell said.  “The field experienced a lot of wear and tear over the years, so to say I am excited would be an understatement.”

Still, while the Board’s decision was largely about varsity sports teams, the impact of the turf will be far-reaching.

“This project will be very beneficial to our students, athletic programs and community organizations,” Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto said.

The chief aim of the initiative was to allow for safer play and a higher level of play for all involved. At present, only Newman Stadium is turfed, and numerous NASH and NAI teams have to practice on hazardous fields or rent facilities with synthetic turf when the turf is occupied at Newman, which is regularly in high demand. Many teams have to practice at night just to avoid the risk of serious injury on other fields that increase the likelihood of sprained ankles.

So, on March 20th, the Board voted by a 7-2 margin for the lowest bid of $1.9 million for one turfed field, lighting, and parking lot improvements.  And NA’s student-athletes readily approved.

“As a field hockey player, we were kicked off the fields multiple times and had to practice in North Park, so this is actually a big upgrade,” field hockey player Maya Denoma said.

Denoma’s teammate Sam Marien, a senior, will not benefit from the new turf next season, though she recognizes its value.  Nevertheless, she also questions the decision to install the turf at NAI.

“For fall sports, it’s really annoying to have to have other sports teams bused to other places,” said Marien, who noted that there is ample room at NASH for additional turf.

For Board member Kevin Mahler, the benefit of the upgrade is that it will affect the athletic program as a whole. “We just do not want to have the middle school football team practicing on this field, and the soccer team will still have to practice at 9 o’clock at night,” he said to the local media.

Palumbo Landscaping will install handicapped-tailored walkways and the turf, while A-1 Electric will install the lights and furbish up electrical work on the field.