After nine years of use, the playing surface on Newton Campus’ field hockey field is being replaced. The project is a routine one, as the projected life of a turf field is usually between eight and 10 years, with this year’s replacement coming right in the middle of that window.
While the surface is used by the varsity field hockey team as its home field, the space is used by several other organizations on campus, including but not limited to club field hockey and lacrosse as well as intramural sports.
While the old turf was not overdue for replacement, there were quality concerns that encouraged the University to act when it did.
“It had definitely come to the point where the seams were kind of starting to spread, there had started to be gaps, so it was really starting to becoming a danger for any students or athletes on the field,” said field hockey head coach Ainslee Lamb. “So I think that was a motivating factor, just that it was becoming to be dangerous to be on the field.”
Over the course of a turf’s useful life, it can be expected that the surface will harden, as the one on Newton Campus did, providing an extra element of risk for students and athletes using the facility.
“We’re definitely more aware of it,” Lamb said. “I, as a coach, am more aware that as the turf gets older that it’s harder on their shins. We’re fortunate that we haven’t had any major injuries. The other thing is, because we water the turf before we play on it, it does soften it a little bit, but the other kids going on there, that’s probably harder on them than it is on us.”
The University, rather than the athletic department, is sponsoring the project, likely because of the wide use outside of varsity athletics that the field sees. The turf and the additional layer of padding is being ripped up, leaving the original layer of asphalt below to be covered by new, fresher padding and Astroturf.
On top of the surface being replaced, the project includes an upgrade to the watering system that is used by the field hockey team to wet the turf before practices and games.
“The company before only put four in, and at times the field was half wet and half dry, that’s really bad and that increases the danger for athletes, because you have different shoes for wet turf than you would a dry turf, and if you’re going through a wet turf with a lot of cleats on the bottom of your shoe and you step onto dry turf, it can really increase your potential to get injured because you’re going to grab a lot,” Lamb said.
While the old watering system had just four sprinkler heads, the upgrade will double that number with six major heads and two smaller ones.
Asst. Sports Editor Alex Fairchild contributed to this story.