Artificial turf levels playing field for Brown football

Brown Athletics announced Tuesday that the playing surface at Brown Stadium will be upgraded to artificial turf ahead of the start of next season. The new playing surface will be named Richard Gouse Field at Brown Stadium in honor of the project’s lead donor, Richard Gouse ’68, who was named an Honorary Member of the Brown Athletics Hall of Fame for his contributions to the program.

Although the team has played games on grass in the past, they are already training on the same model of grass used in the stadium. “This will be the newest and greatest,” said Head Coach James Perry. “We practice on it every day.”

Compared to real grass, artificial grass is more conducive to speed, a focus for the current team. “Speed ​​is a Perry priority and this field will suit this type of team,” said Gouse. “With artificial turf, you can really benefit from a team that is fast, unlike traditional grasses.”

“Having a perfect playing surface – which is artificial turf – is going to be a great thing for us as a team,” said quarterback and team captain EJ Perry ‘21.5. “You can definitely play faster on grass and that’s one of the things we train for. We want to play fast. “

Coach Perry agreed that speed was the number one priority in preparing the team for the coming season. “Speed ​​permeates every decision we make,” added James Perry. “That means recruiting players who are fast, and once they get here at Brown, we designed our player development program to encourage speed. It only makes sense that we then play on a surface that shows that. “

Brown is the last of the Ivies to use artificial turf in his stadium. The team’s previous playing surface was an irregularly shaped lawn that was approaching a century of intensive use. “The field was nearly 100 years old and arched in the middle,” said Gouse. “It was a strange, non-traditional field. You could actually see it rise and fall from sideline to sideline. “

In addition to flattening the playing field, the new turf is immune to the typical deterioration in turf as the games wear out. “The grass field kind of gets knocked up during the game,” said Halfback and team captain Allen Smith ’22. “There are more slip-ups later in the game and it’s harder to make some of those cuts that you might make early in the game. If the grass is torn up, you don’t have good grip. “

Suboptimal winter conditions in Providence exacerbated turf problems and placed players at greater risk of injury. “You’d be playing late in the year and it would be a bowl of mud,” said James Perry. “The amount of muscle strain you would have if the dirt kicked up is enormous. And if you did get rain it wouldn’t be a good surface to play on – not a good surface to watch the game play. “

“I believe this will allow for much longer seasonal uses of the field,” added Gouse. “And there are other alternatives that I think it could be used for and hope it will be used for.”

Gouse, a member of the university’s sports foundation, has been involved in the football program for over 50 years and mentors numerous players on the team. “I’ve known him for 25 years, but he’s been a central figure in the lives of many football players even longer,” said Coach Perry. “So that’s a nice part of the fact that he’s the main donor and the field is named after him – he’s just a really active guy in brown football.”

A number of Brown alums contributed to the project alongside Gouse, including Paul Choquette ’60, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Paul was my mentor when I was a student here,” said James Perry. “So it was really nice that he got promoted.”

For Gouse, the new playing area symbolizes the university’s investment in the success of the football program. “I’ve watched Ivy League football my entire adult life and I can tell you that Coach Perry is a winner and that he’ll make sure this team wins,” said Gouse. “In order for him to succeed, the university also needs a commitment. And I think Christina Paxson (Vice President of Athletics) M. Grace Calhoun, one of the most respected and successful sports directors in the country, speaks most eloquently for this commitment. “

“President Paxson is truly committed to excellence in athletics and throughout the school,” said James Perry. “This leadership that begins with her has been tremendous and this project would certainly not be possible without the support of President Paxson.”

Although only first graders were able to train on campus in the summer, the entire team is excited about the first game on the new field against the University of Rhode Island on September 18. “Even the camp practices and every aspect of (training) is going to feel so great,” said EJ Perry. “There will be tremendous gratitude and happiness for all of the things we can do next year.”

“We have made great strides since our last game in 2019,” said Smith. “It will have been almost two years (since our last game) when we faced URI on the new field. We’re chasing a ring – the goal is a championship. “

Gouse, who also circled September 18 on his calendar, shares Smith’s optimism. “I’ve seen the history of athletics at Brown for a long time – the commitment to the program that’s just been done … is extraordinary,” said Gouse. “And you will see great things happen in the next few years.”

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