Artificial turf fields save time, headaches for coaches

Lake Norman Charter installed an artificial surface on its soccer field last fall. / Doug Coats

With artificial turf fields becoming more popular, Lincoln County is considering bringing them to its four high schools.

At the start of this school year, eight of the 15 soccer teams in the Lake Norman Media Group’s coverage area are playing on turf, with Lake Norman Charter and Community School of Davidson being the latest additions for 2020. Although the upfront price may seem high, trainers and administrators say the investment is worth it. Soccer fields are the linchpin for sporting activities and also serve as a playing surface for other sports such as soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

In East Lincoln, college teams share the field with East Lincoln Middle, the high school marching band, Optimist Club tournaments, and even the annual summer fireworks show.

“Our field is in continuous use from August 1st through June,” said Chris Matile, East Lincoln sporting director.

All this use means constant maintenance by coaches and sports directors who try to offer their players the best possible and safest surface for training and competition.

“My wife would love it if I didn’t have to mow every two days,” joked east coach David Lubowicz.

In addition to mowing, buses with lawns also have to take care of fertilizer and line the fields. There is also less rainfall and postponed games to deal with. The time saved is a value that is difficult to quantify, said Matile.

East Lincoln football field is used year round, including the Mustangs football teams. / Joseph Brymer

Coach Joe Popp Stadium at Mooresville High was the first local school to receive an artificial surface in 2007. It was replaced three years ago. Now the Blue Devils play more often on the surface than on the grass.

“It’s so common now for everyone to get used to the lawn,” said Mooresville manager Joe Nixon. “When I started 18 years ago, it was never there. I enjoy not having to draw lines, I enjoy not having to mow. “

However, the modern interface has some drawbacks. In the summer months the lawn surface is noticeably hotter than grass. Christ the King’s Daniel Rhodes played college football in Illinois and NC Central, both of which used turf fields.

“Players may prefer grass pitches for aesthetics,” he said. “I would prefer the grass. In summer it’s cooler than on grass, but I have no preference (for our team). ”

For a historic school like East Lincoln, the lawn would represent a significant upgrade to the facilities. Matile said he would support any decision by the school board.

“Here at East, we’d love to upgrade our facilities whenever the opportunity presents itself,” he said. “It gives us the kind of facility we’re proud of.”

It goes beyond athletics. With families flocking to the lake region – especially around Denver – families can see school systems invest in facilities. LCS said it would cost $ 650,000 to $ 750,000 to install at all four schools and would take a year, depending on the availability of funds.

“Having a top-notch facility plays a role in that,” said Matile. “It definitely shows that the county supports the academic side – which Lincoln does so well there – and shows pride in the athletic side.”

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