For years now, some parents and students have complained about the athletic department’s scheduling process for Bennett Field. While the athletic directors put a good amount of time and effort into scheduling each practice and game on Bennett, there are still many flaws and inequalities as a result of this process.
For example, the grass fields get slippery and muddy, while the turf on Bennett drains the water. Mainly spring sports like lacrosse, baseball, girls soccer, and track and field have seen the biggest impact because of limited field space. The only time these teams get to consistently use Bennett field for practice is when playoffs come around.
While the school is very fortunate to provide lots of grass fields at both campuses, many of those fields are poorly maintained and not always reliable with weather conditions. Therefore, all of these sports want to get time on Bennett Field for games and practices; in my opinion, these problems could be avoided with a better schedule and planning system from the athletic department. I don’t exactly mean everyone gets field space everyday, but track and field having field privileges over soccer and lacrosse (when they should just be on the track) feels a little unfair.
Boys and girls soccer each play only three regular season games a year on Bennett and a possibility of two during playoffs. For practice, they are forced to play on the West Fields that are often muddy from last night’s rain or just have poorly cut grass, with tons of dry patches. However, if they are not on the West Fields, they are moved to play on the very small grass patch next to the NC parking lot. With the soccer teams having up to 25 players each, the patch isn’t big enough to have sufficient varsity level practices.
In terms of comparing pace of play and performance from grass to turf, the differences are astronomical. From rolled ankles due to the thick grass and dips in the West Fields, to the ball bouncing twice as high on the turf, it’s not a viable option for both boys and girls soccer to practice mainly on grass and play most away games on turf. The pace is much slower on the grass, and requires a whole different game scheme to play on it. It’s a disadvantage for any program that has minimal practice space, and LT could do a lot more to help manage the use of Bennett Field’s turf for all sports.
On the other hand, sometimes soccer has an advantage when it comes to practicing on West Fields because a good amount of their home games are also played on the grass. However, in the grand scheme of things, there are far more inconsistencies with the grass field to turf field switches for any team to keep up and perform the same way every time.
Along with rescheduling sports games and practices to different times, another solution could be to add another turf field. Although the process could be complicated and may take a while, the school has enough money, resources, and space. When baseball and girls soccer started up, there was minimal field space for tryouts. Due to this, they were both on the turf simultaneously on certain days.
The issue with attaining equal time and space on Bennett Field is often overlooked and doesn’t seem like a very important problem to most, but the effect on an athletes’ practice and performance caused by it should be taken into more consideration by the athletic department and school administration.
Staff Vote: 22-2