Anyone who followed the field hockey team this year will not hesitate to say that it played extremely well. But they may hesitate when asked about the amount of school spirit shown at those games. Since the team is only one of two Division I schools without its own turf field, its competitions were consistently played off campus, limiting the community’s involvement in the team’s successful season.
Of the 18 games played by the team, 11 were away and seven were “home.” Actually, five of the games weren’t even home games — they were played at three different nearby locations: Mercer County Community College, Princeton Day School and Stuart Country Day School. Having to go to a different school just to practice or play is a lot of unnecessary travel. On top of having to play their away games, the travel to home games is a reason why attendance was lower at this season’s games than in previous years. Because people didn’t want to go somewhere besides Rider, or didn’t know where to go, the turnout at the “home” games was disappointing.
The decision to give Rider a turf field, now scheduled to be installed in 2010, has been a long time coming. With turf, the weather will no longer be a problem. Because we live in the Northeast, hurricane season brings a lot of rain to Rider. With the grass fields, the schedule has to be adjusted around bad weather. Grass fields also have a tendency to flood, and even after the rain has subsided, the grass is still wet. A group of athletes running up and down a wet field with cleats on destroys the grass. When that grass is destroyed, it causes divots and bumps, which can’t be fixed overnight. If those bumps stay in the field all season, teams are forced to adjust. But with a turf field, problems like these will become a thing of the past.
Playing on grass is outdated. Even high schools around the country are playing on turf fields. Grass fields are on their way out, and turf fields are the new norm.
The construction of the field will mean an improvement for several Rider sports. Since high schools have begun playing on turf fields, it will be a great recruiting tool. Being able to play on a turf field can make or break a potential athlete’s decision. If a turf field is here, it would convince more students to come here. It allows the school to be taken more seriously if it is not one of only two Division I field hockey programs still playing on a grass field.
With the turf field comes more chances for more of the Rider community to get involved. When the field is built, possibly as soon as mid-April, new lights will also be installed, making night games possible. This could increase the attendance at games, while also giving students something to do on a Friday night.
The new turf field will be an asset to the entire Rider community. It will be mainly used for field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer. But it will also be open to other Division I sports on campus. For example, the baseball team can use the turf field on days for when their usual field is still covered in snow. They can run drills while practicing grounders and fielding without worrying that they will ruin the field. Intramurals and club sports can use the field as well, which will give them more options of where to play. It’s a great experience for the athletes who love to play sports, and allow them to actually play on a varsity field, instead of behind Daly’s.
Besides the clear advantages of having a turf field, this will also solve a problem that not many people know about. The field hockey team wanted to play several other schools at Rider because they were good competition, but other schools refused to play on a grass field. This left Rider with two options. The team could work out a deal and play even more away or off-site games, or they just wouldn’t play at all. This made for a difficult decision: Pack up all the equipment and hit the road? Or miss out on a new playing experience?
Clearly, spending the money to convert our playing field will pay off for the entire Rider community.
This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and was written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee, and the Executive Editor, Kristie Kahl.