At the center of campus, the Barker Family Stadium and Cahall-Sandspur Field serves as home to the Rollins soccer and lacrosse programs. For the second summer in a row, however, the field has been under renovation, this time due to improper implementation and poor management.
Although Rollins’ student athletes are incredibly grateful for the original renovations made to their home field, the players were in for a major adjustment last fall due to the sometimes significant differences between artificial turf and grass. Athletes were reasonably skeptical when the installation was first done.
Usually, artificial turf adds more heat and can cause painful burn injuries. Rollins, however, made sure to use FIFA-endorsed Limonta Sport Synthetic turf, which is supposed to contain finer turf beads. The filler used was different than the usual black tar beads, and the grass material was much softer. The players, therefore, did not have to worry about their cleats being ripped up and destroyed, or about the field drying out and becoming a sand pit.
Everything looked good approaching the 2015-2016 athletic season until Florida’s summer storms began to hit. Flaws within the new field were then exposed.
The drainage system was incorrectly installed causing puddles to form all over the field. Many students may recall the moldy, rotting stench that began to emit from the area surrounding Cahall-Sandspur stadium. Thankfully, the company agreed to completely redo the field at no additional cost to Rollins to avoid any more field issues, but at what price to Rollins’ athletes?
The players, having returned to campus, were eager for pre-season to begin and expected an easier adjustment to the turf having played a full season on it. Unfortunately, the Cahall-Sandspur field is nearly two weeks behind schedule on its renovations, and the teams had to begin training off-campus on a grass field. The Women’s soccer team lost a player to injury last Fall during pre-season on the off-campus fields, so many of them were worried this could happen again.
Practicing on the Bishop Moore baseball outfield has been disruptive and tiring, according to some of the players.
Members of the women’s team, like Sally McGuren ‘18, felt quite strong about how the field renovations have been affecting their pre-season. “We have to arrive extra early to pack up the busses and then drive over, unload, get ready, practice, cool down, pack up again, get back on the bus, and head out again. The baseball outfield has been nice, but it’s a different kind of grass that our plastic cleats don’t grip onto well (we have had quite a few ankle rolls just in this week). Bishop Moore has turf, but it is a lot rougher and hotter with the black tar beads. We definitely look forward to being back on the turf at the field since our locker room is right there, and it’s really close.”
Last Sunday, August 21, Rollins’ men’s soccer kicked off the start to their regular season on another field that would have been otherwise a home game. Since the renovations are so far behind schedule, the team was unable to use the home field to their advantage and had to host the game off campus. Ben Grant ‘19, member of the men’s team, said “Playing off campus was just a neutral ground and gave us next to no advantage over [the other team].”
Rollins Tars ended up losing that game 0-1. The boy’s next home game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17, against conference rival, Nova Southeastern. The turf company has a little less than a month to finish this field, but at the rate they are going, they could have grown new grass by now.