COLUMN: A proposal made by Lafaytte High Athletics Director Anthony Hart last week to have a new, multi-purpose field installed at William L. Buford Stadium truly has the entire school district in mind.
While the football team will benefit from the new surface — one that new schools or schools with the appropriate funds are all installing — there are several other sports and extra circular activities that would benefit as well.
“Right off the top of my head, it’s soccer and band. The band has to practice right now out in front of the superintendent’s office in that little piece of area right there and soccer, we’re just constantly having to take what we can get there,” Hart said. “The city helps us some (with practice sites) and we have to work with football during the season, so it’s always been hard on those two folks. Another group it will help is our elementary students, playground wise on wet days, they’ll be able to get on the field. It helps a lot of kids at our school.
“From an athletic director standpoint, it gives my other sports a chance to have a place to practice without having to climb on a bus or go here or go there and instead of having the left over time, they’ll have planned time. Every little bit helps.”
Cole weighs in
Lafayette’s marching band director, Kevin Cole, said having a multi-purpose field would greatly benefit his 100 students, who don’t practice on the proper sized field currently, while moving full time to the stadium would allow him to see how the band is marching from a higher vantage point, a key when it comes time for competitions.
“It would be greatly beneficial for us for several things. Number one, the football field is actually a better field than what we’re having to go for a practice field right now. It gives us a better location and you don’t have to worry if it’s rained the night before,” Cole said. “You don’t have to worry about lines being painted down all the time. The lines will always be there, plus for us, it gives a full practice field which is something I don’t have right now. I would now have a full football field to work on.”
Cole said he has talked with Hart and superintendent, Adam Pugh, about the benefits of the proposed field in the past. He also added that the coaches have been helpful coordinating needed practice times but that a new field would eliminate the aspect of the surface being worn down or suffering deep ruts due to rain.
“We start marching at the end of July and the first part of August and go all the way through football season. The coaches and I have cooperated here for the last many years as far as the band being able to use the main stadium from time to time,” Cole said. “We’ve never had a problem being able to use it but the way the band makes it forms as we march, if we use the field after a long period of time, you can see where people stand and we can wear out a football field pretty fast. Our practice field shows it and this would be a field that wouldn’t get worn out.”
Lower upkeep costs
Maintenance costs, according to Hart, would be better for the district as well long term.
“If we’re able to keep the field turf the full 15 years without replacing it, we come out ahead. Most new places are going to go ahead and go to this because it is cost effective over the long term,” Hart said. “It will look first class and that’s another that you think about. To me, it’s like constructing a building. It’s going to be a place that is used so much. It’s going to help track and everybody in our athletic department. I’m excited about it. Some of the people that aren’t for it don’t see what the use is.”
Hart has been thinking about installing the new surface at the school for several years and consulting with his coaches throughout to make sure they wanted it or needed it.
“This is what (LHS girls soccer) Coach (Melinda) Scruggs played on in high school. She said she is used to it and loves it. I have been thinking about this for a long time. I would say three or four years,” Hart said. “You get discouraged and it gets wet and you don’t have a place to go whether it’s soccer or football. Last year it was wet and the soccer team was supposed to play Oxford on a Saturday and I had to cancel the game because we were going to be in the playoffs and I had a chance to have a home game in the playoffs in a few days and I couldn’t let them play the Oxford game on a Saturday.
“It was hard making that decision. They wanted to play so it was hard making that decision but with the field, we just couldn’t do it.”
There have been a few people voice concerns about the project, according to a source, but not many. The money is there to get the project accomplished without having to raise taxes I’m told, another bit of good information and reason to get behind it.
The reality is that the entire school will have a chance to use the new facility, including students who don’t play sports or are involved in the band currently.
“There really is no negative to this. I know some people may try and find a negative to this but this is a great benefit to our school. Every age group, K through 12, will benefit from this,” Hart said.
“A facility like this could be used for so many other things. It’s not just for football. Soccer could use it and things like that. Of course we could use it,” Cole added. “If you have field days and things like that, you have a place that’s not going to be so much affected by the weather.” (November 15, 2012, Page 8)