The turf project is coming along on time, and progressing nicely. RDMGtv was there today testing the "Tiger Tron" and making sure that the new fiber optic cable was sending signal to the board. Still some work to do there, but it should be completed next week. However while we were there I received quite a bit more information about the progress, and had a chance to ask a few additional questions.
My first observation, was how striking the color of the field is, and how nice it will be for our camera, when streaming and archiving the games next season. Watch it all LIVE right here, by the way on the CushingHub.net. This observation was shared with those in the press box, including Koln Knight, and Chris Hubbard. Comments were also made about how cool it was to see the wind blow through the grass. It is very realistic, and looks like real grass. However my first question was, what changes do the athletes have to make in footwear, on this surface? Thinking in terms of the expenditure that would have to occur to play on different surfaces home and away. Chris Hubbard told us, "actually they wear the exact same cleat and shoe as before". " No additional or special shoes have to be worn on this surface", he added. I guess I was still thinking of the old astroturf days when a special tennis shoe was needed on those surfaces.
My next question was, where are the yard line numbers and hash marks? Mr. Hubbard told me "they have a shearing process, where the shear the artificial grass down to the surface, then cut out each number and adhere the number to the base." So every hash mark, soccer line, end zone lettering, and every other marker has to be individually done. That will take some time, I would think. However watching them sew the filed together, every five yards, the crew demonstrated that they are proficient at doing that, and very well. The video below will demonstrate the process of laying each five yard section. Each section takes about 30 to 40 minutes, from laying the turf out, sewing it together, and flattening the seam. They were at the 50 yard line on June 29th. I would anticipate them have the south half of the playing surface down by the end of the day tomorrow.
All the soccer lines will have to sheared away and sewn in, as well as sewing and stitching the sidelines together. The whole design has to pieced together carefully. Once that is completed then they will begin putting down the sand layer, on the rubber surface. Once that is completed, they will work into surface the rubber fill. Then the CoolPlay cork surface is added in after, as the last layer. All this has to be fluffed in and worked down into the 2 1/2" blades of artificial grass. There will be about a 1/4" or so of grass still atop the playing surface. Even now when you walk across the surface, it feels comfortable and malleable to your feet. I can only imagine what is will feel like when all the layers are added.
There is no doubt that the football and soccer programs will be the biggest beneficiaries of the new surface. However to dismiss or overlook, the generous contribution of all the work to prepare the surface for the turf, would have been a financial mistake. Pride in our athletic programs, is and has been on the rise over the last six years. Pride is soaring, and so are expectations. But let us keep in mind and remember where we were not so many years ago. We have made significant changes to our school culture, and community pride. Turf does not bring us a more successful program. It is the communities way of saying - we support you Cushing Tigers, coaches and administrators, for the investment you have made in our student athletes, our school system.