By Bess Murad and Sophia Ferlenda
The fate of the turf field and track that has been debated at J-DHS for nearly nine years will be put up to a final vote on Oct. 28. If the vote passes, the construction of the new turf field will begin in the spring of 2015, following the last J-DHS Boys Varsity lacrosse game.
The Jamesville-DeWitt Community Grounds for Action Coalition has raised $843,000 over the past 18 months through 11 fundraisers like in-home private events, the Red Ram Winter Jam, and dodgeball tournaments. This, combined with funds from the state, is enough to build a field that is 225 feet wide by 360 feet long. These dimensions allow all sports teams to play on the field.
The JDCGAC, Athletic Director John Goodson, and the J-DHS community have debated over the width of the field since the JDCGAC’s formation. The width of the field has been controversial because sports, such as girls lacrosse, needs a wider field. J-DHS coaches were advocating for this because they believe that the wider the field, the better their teams will play. “Our philosophy is to try to make sure we are equitable with everybody,” Goodson says.
The turf field has been a controversial discussion throughout the fundraising process. Student-athletes, parents and coaches are on both sides of the argument. Sophomore Hannah Butler, a member of the J-DHS Varsity Girls Cross Country team and track team is in favor of the turf and track facility. She believes that the new track will help the athletes to run faster because of the smooth surface it provides. “Our track is really hard, old and banked on one side and most tracks aren’t like that. New tracks are (softer) and better for your feet. This will benefit our team,” says Butler.
Senior Ben Wipper, a three-sport varsity athlete, sees both sides and believes both that the turf will be helpful, but that it is not necessary. It will be helpful because all other opponents have turf which has given J-DHS a disadvantage in the past. However turf isn't completely necessary because he believes J-DHS has had great success in athletics even without the turf: “grass has seemed to work,” he says.
Sophomore Mike Crossett, who plays on both the lacrosse and football teams, is not in favor of the turf field. Crossett believes that turf burns hurt and turf causes more injuries. Junior Dean Kousmanidis, a midfielder on the J-DHS Varsity Boy Soccer team, agrees with Crossett because “turf is hard on players’ joints.”
Senior Alyssa Robens also does not believe the turf is a good idea. Robens plays basketball, and is not in favor of the turf because it does not help every sport. Robens believes the funds raised could go to a better cause that could benefit a larger amount of students at J-DHS. “Maybe the money could go into the school lunches because $2.75 is very expensive,” says Robens. Sophomore Akbar Qahar, who does not play any sports at J-DHS, is against the building of the turf and thinks that there should be money fundraised to benefit the music program.
Assistant coach of the Varsity Boys Lacrosse team, Jeff Ike, is mostly in favor of the new turf field. However, he believes that the turf field will not affect the players ability because, “if you have athletic ability within your team, the student-athletes that come out to participate, come out to participate,” However he does believe eventually in the future the turf will prove to be helpful. The availability of the turf field will allow the teams to start preparing and practicing for competition earlier in their seasons during the time period where the grass is not in condition to be played on.
Other coaches for J-DHS sports teams are not as excited for the turf as Coach Ike. Football coach Jim Tuck, who assists the modified, JV, and varsity teams, is not in favor. “I'm old school, I like grass,” says Coach Tuck. He believes that turf leaves kids more vulnerable to injuries. Tuck would have wanted to see the money go into maintaining the grass field and track instead.
Whether you are for or against the new turf, make sure to get out and vote on Oct. 28 to make your voice heard and support the J-DHS community. If you are not old enough to vote, inform your parents to go out and support your schools’ communities.