Paving the Way to a New Turf Field at ACHS

Drainage Grate Hazard at Soccer FieldNo Permanent Bleachers at Soccer FieldCurrent Football Field ConditionsPlanned New Combined Turf FieldArea Where Bricks Will Be LaidExample Bricks

On Tuesday, we were invited to meet with the members behind the Bearcat Pride Foundation.  The foundation’s ultimate goal is to improve the athletic facilities of Anderson County schools through various means.  So we talked with Jenny Kays and the rest of the board members to see what their plans are.

According to the members, the foundation started with Don Casciola’s daughter, Grace, approaching the Anderson County School Board to help fix the high school soccer field.  The field has a number of concerning hazards, including metal drain grates near the edge of the field that could easily catch soccer cleats, holes for sprinkler heads which could cause ankle injuries, and relatively poor drainage which adds up to creating ultimately unsafe conditions for the players.  Unfortunately, the school board didn’t have funding available to address the problems of the field but said to Grace that if she could raise the money, they would fix it.

So, Grace went to her parents, and they talked with other parents of children at the high school.  Together, they formed the non-profit Bearcat Pride Foundation last year with a mission to jumpstart the renovation of the athletic facilities at the Anderson County High School.

Their first step was to see what would be the best option to give the most impact.  Since many of the board members are also parents of children in the high school sports programs, they have seen other county’s facilities around the state.  And time after time, many of the other counties had much safer and better fields than our own.  They also noticed that some of them had synthetic turf instead of grass.

They investigated that further and contacted Boyle County’s High School to see why they used turf instead of grass.  They indicated that it would cost them over $50,000 a year to try to maintain a grass field, and it still wouldn’t look good due to Kentucky’s periodic flooding and droughts.  For Boyle County, the turf was a much more durable option.

So that gave the Bearcat Pride members an idea of creating a single synthetic turf field to rule them all.  Instead of having separate soccer and football fields, a synthetic turf field could easily handle wear from both sports.  It actually could handle wear from even more activities, including lacrosse and band practice.

The board members also realized that a combined turf field could be a large tourist draw for the county.  Currently, because of the conditions and size of the soccer field, Anderson County can’t host any regional games.  And because the band can only operate on the parking lot in front of the high school, they can’t host any band competitions.

With the idea in place, they started planning on how to create a combined synthetic turf field.  Since the current soccer field isn’t regulation size and doesn’t have any bleachers or other facilities, they looked to the current football field.  The football field has everything needed but is just a tad shy on the width to also be a soccer field.  After talking with contractors, they realized that only the visitor’s bleachers would need to be moved back a few feet to accommodate the new field.

After getting some quotes from contractors to put in a synthetic turf field and to do the minor construction, they presented their plan to the school board.  The total cost of the project would run around $1 million, with $800,000 being the cost of the synthetic turf.  The school board said that they would go ahead with the plan if the foundation can raise the funds to build it.

And so they started their first fundraiser just recently in a series of planned fundraisers.  Called “Paving the Way at ACHS,” they are selling engraved bricks that will be laid at the entrance of the athletic complex at the high school.  The engravings are open to anyone who wants to commemorate a name or group.  They plan to be selling the bricks at every home game this season.  We wish them much luck and hope to see their plans come to light.

For more information and to order bricks, check out the Bearcat Pride website at bearcatpride.org.

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Posted in School & Education, Sports.

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