Brighton, Covington and Munford football could have artificial turf fields by 2022

If everything goes according to plan, Brighton, Covington and Munford will be playing on artificial turf soccer fields in the fall of 2022.

Tipton County Schools director Dr. John Combs, received school board approval Thursday night to begin researching plans to provide all three county schools with turf that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs and provide more field time for other sports and activities.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a while, but obviously money was a problem,” said Combs, who estimated the price at $ 5 million.

Combs said the government’s Covid aid money was being used for technology, rooftop, heating and air conditioning, thus freeing up funds for this project.

While the soccer programs are the most direct beneficiaries of the new fields, Combs indicated that many other students will benefit too. Other teams and bands can train in the fields, which are much more durable than grass. The field will also be much better for any school graduation ceremony.

“As graduation approaches, everyone is watching the weather,” said Combs. “With these fields it could rain 30 minutes before graduation and we could still go out and graduate.”

Covington head coach JR Kirby posted the news on the various Covington football social media platforms last night and the response has been overwhelming. He said he stayed up late taking calls and text messages from Charger followers.

“I’m excited for the kids,” he said. “Hopefully we can align some playoff games with that. How exciting is that going to be? You saw our field being torn apart while we were doing some November (playoff) runs. We played in some muddy fields. It will be nice not to have to worry about that. “

Football coaches spend countless hours and dollars maintaining lawns before, after, and after the football season. Kirby estimated that it could save up to $ 500,000 in maintenance costs over a period of 10 to 15 years (the average lifespan of an artificial field).

This is what Covington’s new artificial turf field could look like. Artwork by Echo Day

“My whole week is about taking care of the field,” said Kirby. “Every time we paint it, it costs about $ 1,000.”

Like Combs, he pointed out that soccer, baseball, track, softball, and cross country teams could use the field and no one would have to worry about the wear and tear that comes with lawns.

Brighton’s soccer coach Mike David has trained on artificial turf at St. Benedict and several other schools and knows firsthand how much better they are.

“We spend a lot of time lining the practice field and trying to write down hashmarks and numbers,” he said. “You can practice with a grass field if you know it won’t be ruined. We are definitely looking forward to it … pretty soon it will pay off. Your field will look the same in November as it did in August. “

“I think our players will definitely be excited, but our coaches may be more excited when they spend as much time on the field as they do,” said Munford head coach Slade Calhoun.

Calhoun said he was more excited about the practice opportunities a turf field would offer than about the actual game night. Munford’s practice field doesn’t do well, and footballs are regularly filled with water and need to be replaced for about $ 100 per inhabitant.

“We are very proud of our playing field. I found it flawless this year, ”he said. “For us it is more about practice and practice security. Then think about what color we will spend. We buy cases and cases of paint every year. It is several thousand dollars to paint the practice field and the playing field. You talk about cutting costs significantly … In the long run this is a (financial) piece of cake. “

Assuming the final plans are approved by the school board and Tipton County Commission, Combs said the goal is to start construction on all three fields once the 2021 football season ends.

He has researched fields at Dyersburg High School, Collierville High School, the University of Alabama, and the University of Memphis and would like to see similar fields. The latest fields, he said, have synthetic cooling technology that will keep the field about 20 degrees cooler than the temperature, which will come in handy during the summer exercises and pre-season games in August and September.

Many high schools in Memphis, Jackson, and rural West Tennessee already have artificial turf fields. Milan, one of Covington’s biggest rivals, installed one last year.

“When I am a parent visiting athletic facilities for my child, Tipton County and our activities are a must,” said Kirby, who has overseen major exercise facility renovations for the past 12 months. “We’re pretty progressive. We’re trying to keep the kids here in Tipton County. We don’t want them to go to Bartlett or Collierville or Arlington because they are doing things. This is just another step in that direction. “

Kirby already has ideas of what the field will look like. He wants a lightning bolt on the 50 yard line and purple or gold end zones with “Covington” in one and “Chargers” in the other.

“I can tell you the people here in Covington are bloody excited. Very, very excited, ”he said. “It will be something we can all be proud of. It will make Friday night even more special in the future. “

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