If you stopped by the Collegiate School this summer, it would have been hard to miss the construction happening between the Lower and Middle schools. Construction on the new turf on Grover Jones field began towards the beginning of summer and was completed just before the start of the school year. With the field being almost a decade old, and two seasons of high-impact sports played on it every year, Collegiate athletics were desperately in need of a change. Already the field is having a positive impact one of the teams. Varsity Football’s Head Coach and Upper School Dean of Students Mark Palyo said that the new field has “elevated energy” for both the players and the coaches. Palyo said that turf is only designed to last “x number of years” and that the old turf was “worn out.” Paylo also sees many new benefits to the turf. The traction is better, it has better rain drainage, it is physically easier on bodies because of the better cushioning, and it is more clearly marked.
When interviewing players and fans to see if they had similar views to Palyo, I heard much of the same. It was clear that all of the players were excited to talk about the field, and the first thing all of them said was some variation of “The turf is awesome.” Paylo was right about the new turf raising players’ energy and excitement, and varsity football co-captain Matthew Gelozin (‘17) enforced this by saying, “[The players] are hype about the field.” Gelozin “[likes] the turf. It looks good. Sometimes little rocks will come up from underneath.” Supporting Gelozin were players Jake Johnston (‘17) and Jack Sroba (‘17). Sroba agreed with Gelozin, stating, “The turf looks nice, and I like the extra softness it has to lessen impact on falls, but the excessive amount of turf really grinds my gears.” Johnston, the kicker for the team, adds, “[The turf] is a good addition to the athletic facilities; it is good for Convocation and other events, and it’s softer.” But the praise was short-lived as he reminisced about the old field, adding, “I like the other turf better to run and kick on.”
Nostalgia for the old field kept players honest and raised expectations for the new, but change always takes time to get used to. As a spectator, the only problem would be the lack of home games. Colton Jones (‘17) said, “I am beyond excited to see the boys play!” Unfortunately for Colton and most spectators, they will only get to see the “boys play” three times on the new, $1.6 million field. The new track, field, and walkways and lighting are a sight to see, but the three home games makes them difficult to appreciate. The reason behind this is just unlucky scheduling, along with varsity football home and away games being on a rotating schedule. The new field is clearly a beneficial addition, even if it takes some getting used to. However, players, coaches, and fans alike will all see its benefits and detriments in their own way.
All photos by Willie Hunter (’17).