Langston Hood, Senior Sports Writer
The Athletics Department recently embarked on a new project to replace the turf inside John P. Papp Stadium and the surrounding Carl Munson Track. In the summer of 2009, the facility received a new, all-season synthetic turf field and the track was refurbished. However, both have become dilapidated over the years, as the life expectancy of turf fields is only eight to 10 years. To meet both safety and performance requirements and keep pace with the other facilities in the NCAC, an upgrade was definitely necessary.
Football player Andrew Armile ’24 shared his thoughts, saying, “I think replacing the turf was a great move for the school and its athletes. The old turf was getting worn out and it was definitely time for an upgrade. The new turf will allow our teams to excel in our sports and keep us safe.” Excitement around the new turf is plentiful as the renovation is scheduled to wrap up just in time to host football’s preseason. Additionally, the facilities around the NCAC have seen significant upgrades since the installment of the Andrew Turf Field. Oberlin rolled out a new turf field and stadium in September 2014, followed by Wittenberg in 2015 and Wabash in 2020, with a couple other institutions sprinkled in along the way.
Although the project has sparked excitement, it has not been without difficulty as it has disrupted the normal operation of the turf that the athletics department is so reliant on. There was no ideal time for the nearly four month project as it is in use year round, aside from the winter season which would make construction impossible. This construction window has created some difficulties for the lacrosse teams which were in the middle of their seasons when the turf became unavailable. Additionally, the football team has been moved to the quad following the turf renovation project.
Both lacrosse teams now practice and/or play at a variety of facilities including Wooster High School, Triway High School and Maurer Field depending on the school’s existing athletic schedules and the use of local youth sports programs. However, the teams are taking it in stride, as Tucker Joseph ’23 said, “I think originally we would have expected the turf replacement to have more of an impact on our season. There was some worry about how we would be able to practice on the grass, and whether the change in surface would impact our play. I think overall, it has not been that big of a deal. We have had great success this year and I think the team has handled the adversity quite well.”
Teammate and classmate, Mason Poisson ’23, echoed Joseph’s thoughts, saying, “I will say that the relocation of practices and games to off campus sites is certainly not ideal. However, I feel our team has made the best of the situation and worked hard in practice to keep improving day in and day out.”
Not all the sentiment has been positive and there have been a number of material difficulties that have affected the team’s daily lives, namely transportation. Kenzie Morris ’24 said, “With having practices away, there is a new difficulty every day. We have to put 30 girls into vans, and with travel time, adds an extra hour to our evening. Our practices are usually set 5:30-7:30, and we get home past 8, meaning we can never eat dinner at Lowry. Everyone on my team is running out of flex from having to buy from the C store, and when we spoke to someone from the dining hall, they told us to do late night (which is almost exclusively fried food and pizza). Our usual two-hour practices at the Papp have extended to an all-night ordeal.”
The men’s team has dealt with the same problem as Joseph added, “The main ‘difficulty’ has been getting everyone to and from practice. We have a large team with 56 guys and it can be a bit of a hassle getting everyone out of the locker room and to practice on time. Overall though, the team has managed very well and we are making the most out of it.”
Both teams shared that they are looking forward to the new turf even if they won’t be able to experience it as Clare Leithauser ’23 said, “I’m looking forward to the future players to have a better playing surface and the successes they will have on the new field.”
Morris was more critical in her hopes for the new turf as she said, “I am most looking forward to having fresh turf that doesn’t have holes, and a track that doesn’t have weeds growing out of it. I only wish they could redo our stadium at the same time, because that is an even bigger issue and embarrassment.”
The new turf will greatly increase the appearance of Wooster’s athletic facilities and go a long way in attracting new student athletes to what should be another jewel in Wooster’s crown of iconic buildings and campus features.