CHURCH HILL — There is a plan of action in place to have Volunteer High School’s football field repaired and safe for use by the time the first home game rolls around on Aug. 30 against Sullivan Central.
In the meantime, however, Director of Schools Matt Hixson decided last week that, due to concerns about safety, students won’t be allowed to use the field until it is repaired.
That decision was made as the result of a report given to the Board of Education at its July 11 meeting by Volunteer football coach Josh Castle.
No artificial playing surface this year
Castle was giving the BOE an update on fundraising efforts for a new artificial surface at both Volunteer and Cherokee.
Although there’s a “six-figure” pledge from a business to help pay for the surfaces at both schools, it’s not something that’s going to happen this year, and Castle said he was stepping back from the fundraising effort.
With the football season beginning, as well as the beginning of school Aug. 5, Castle, a chemistry teacher at Volunteer, said he would be too busy to continue spearheading the fundraising campaign he helped launch in April.
A dangerous playing surface
“We still do have some things that need to be addressed on Volunteer’s field, safety issue-wise,” Castle told the BOE. “I know if you drive by and look at ti, it looks green — you can play on it. But until you go onto the field, you’re not really going to see where the danger comes in, in some spots. Actually, it’s probably worse for soccer than it is for football.”
Castle encouraged board members to walk the field, where they will “feel all the holes and the dips.”
Castle added, “The home sideline where the stands are, if I laid a level across it, I guarantee it’s at least 6 inches. … Regardless of whether this turf ever can happen, it’s about the kids, period. … That field needs a lot of attention.”
A plan for maintenance on the field
Board member Chris Christian, who represents the Church Hill area, told the Times News Wednesday that VHS Principal Bobby Wines, District Maintenance Director Shannon Glass, and Volunteer’s coaches have formulated a plan for maintenance on the field.
“They’re going to top-dress it to level it up, and then start a fertilizer regime with watering,” Christian said. “Moving forward after that, we’re going to have procedures in place for year-round maintenance to have the best playing surface we can possibly have. They take sand, and then they use a machine that drags the sand along and fills in the divots and the holes and the lay-spots. Then when you get the Bermuda (grass) growing with the fertilizer, watering, and the hot temperatures like we’ve been having, that will tighten all of that up and you’ll have a good ground cover.”
Christian added, “With the plans that have been put in place, I’m very, very confident that this field will be in good shape by the time of that first game.”