Southmoreland regaining home-field advantage as turf replacement is nearly complete
The high school fall sports season is still four months away, but at Southmoreland, hard work is being done to secure the Scotties' home-field advantage in football and soccer.
Installation of new field turf at Russ Grimm Field started in the middle of April and is expected to be completed (weather permitting) at some point next week, according to Southmoreland athletic director Charlie Swink.
“It's about 90 percent done,” Swink said. “They just have to sew in a few more of the soccer lines.”
Swink also noted some edge work also needs to be finished, along with the addition of the rubber and sand that will complete the turf.
When finished, the Scotties will finally have a home field again.
In late August of last year, heavy rains seeped under the old turf and severely damaged it, leaving the football team as well as the boys and girls soccer teams without a field to play on for home games. The timing couldn't have been much worse as the damage occurred right before the start of the fall sports season.
“You can't imagine how happy I am to get it back,” Swink said.
Because the field was not able to be used, the football team was forced to play its home games at California (Pa.) University. Meanwhile, the soccer teams were able to play a few games on the grass field at Southmoreland Middle School, but many times, the teams played their scheduled home games at other area high schools such as Hempfield, Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands and Greensburg Salem.
“The kids had it rough, and I think they realize how nice it will be to have their home field,” Swink said.
Swink also pointed out that the school board believed it was critical for the work to start prior to the summer so the teams could not only play their home games on the field in the fall but use it for practices and conditioning sessions in the weeks leading up to game action.
The new playing surface is made by Shaw Sports Turf, and Swink added that the design is similar to the old turf.
“It's very similar to the old design,” Swink said, noting that he was not able to give a final cost estimate on the project. “We shrank the Scottie logo (at midfield) so that all the hash marks can now be seen. One end zone says Southmoreland and the other end zone says Scotties.”
Steps have also been taken to make sure that a disaster, similar to the one that happened last August, does not happen again.
“They put a concrete barrier around the field,” Swink said, noting that the barrier should help in preventing excessive water from running onto the field. “The field has also been raised 6 inches.”
In addition, a Jersey Barrier will be in place around the stadium, further securing the field from potential flood damage. Although the project is not yet complete, players and coaches are thrilled to know they'll be returning to their own field for games this fall.
“It's great,” said Southmoreland's Jake Pisula, who will be a senior on the football team. “The travel (last year) was a pain, so it's going to be exciting to play on it. It looks really nice.”
Pisula noted that he felt bad for the seniors not being able to play at home this past season, and Southmoreland girls soccer coach Bob King had similar feelings.
“At first, I didn't think it was a big deal but talking to some of the senior girls at our banquet, I think it really bothered them to not have their own home field to play on,” King said. “(The new field) will have a positive impact, and I'm really looking forward to it. We'll be getting on it as soon as we can.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.