Why Fields Matter
Play is important. Outdoor team sports develop kids physically, socially and emotionally and are a proven antidote to obesity and misbehavior. Through sports, we foster community, celebrate diversity, nurture healthy lifestyles, and help many kids stay connected to school. Improvements to the fields in our community will benefit all kids in the district – through PE classes, district teams, intramurals, recess and community youth leagues.
There are more kids playing now than ever before. Over the past 20 years, our student population has increased by nearly 24%. A demographic study predicts growth will continue, with a 12% increase at the high school alone over the next 5 years. Involvement in field sports has likewise increased dramatically in both school and community programs, compounded by a welcome increase in girls participating. Our lacrosse league, one of the biggest in the country-- didn’t exist 15 years ago and our youth soccer, baseball, softball and football programs all continue to grow. The school district sponsors 30 field teams involving almost 1000 students. Local youth programs have over 5500 participants with nearly 2600 games and 6500 practices a year!
We have limited field space. While participation has been growing, our field supply has been shrinking. We lost a field at Hommocks and at Mamaroneck Avenue School due to building expansions. We are one of the largest school districts in Westchester, yet we only have five fields on school property. Only three are varsity-sized. And only 1—Memorial—is a multi-use field big enough for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer or football. By comparison Scarsdale is a smaller district than ours but has 17 fields on school property, nine varsity-sized; and they converted their main field to synthetic turf in years past.
We are striving to make fields safe. Because of constant use and poor drainage, before we built the new fields, the few that we had were characterized by dangerous pot holes, bald spots, mud bowls, and tufts of tripping hazards. There is little or no resiliency in the compacted dirt. Poor playing surfaces put our kids at a competitive disadvantage and expose them to unnecessary harm. League officials, athletic directors and coaches from other schools have repeatedly complained about the condition of Mamaroneck fields.
Rainouts on sunny days and other miseries has been a real issue. It’s one thing to cancel games and practices when it is actually raining outside; but our few grass fields are so precious that we close them for days at a time so they can “rest” and dry out. Field time must be rationed so frugally that it is nearly impossible to make up games lost or add practices or expand the programs in any way. Our teams practice indoors or on asphalt for much of the spring, while teams from neighboring districts are out on the fields in early March. With the addition of new fields, we will also be able to offer meaningful intramural programs locally so more kids will have the opportunity to play.
It you build it, we will come! So say the teens of this community who have nothing to do and no place to go on Friday and Saturday evenings. In the town of Rye there are soccer, field hockey and football games every Friday and Saturday nights in the fall – drawing hundreds of kids, parents and other community members cheering side by side in the stands. With the addition of our new fields, we are now able to provide a wholesome venue where kids can feel safe gathering to enjoy a game and support their friends. Recent RADAR survey results confirmed that we have a serious problem in this community with at-risk behavior among teens. We must find a way to provide a healthy alternative for our kids.
The grass is greener in other towns. 25 neighboring communities have made it a priority to improve the quality of their playing surfaces. White plains, Scarsdale, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Harrison, Bronxville, Ossining, Port Chester, Rye, Rye Brook, Yonkers and Eastchester – just to name a few – have all updated and improved their sports facilities in recent years.
A visible sign of wellness in the community. Fields are out there for everyone to see. Fields in poor condition say a lot about how much pride we take in our schools and community properties. Fields in great condition will make it clear that we are a vital and healthy community, committed to our kids, our schools and our health.
Our turf fields are safe, durable and environmentally friendly. Drainage on turf fields is excellent; no chemicals are needed to care for the field and maintenance is minimal compared to grass. Plus, these fields do not attract geese or their droppings. Synthetic turf has been proven safer in studies in preventing serious injuries to bones, joints and ligaments.
We should be extremely proud of our accomplishments of adding Alma Field, Memorial Field at the High School and now Lorenzen to the list of top notch fields for our children.