By Haide Hernandez
In the past year, Santa Ana College has opened a new sports field and renovated another, both to great reviews from student athletes and coaches.
“It’s a bigger upgrade than the locker rooms or the weight room. They definitely needed it, a safe and beautiful field,” Head Football Coach Geoff Jones said.
The college spent about $2 million to open a modern soccer stadium in 2013 and retrofit the field at the John Ward Track.
The funds for the stadium were allocated from Measure E, while the $150,000 cost of retrofitting the field came from the operational budget.
“It’s a lot nicer now, [we] really appreciate it because our coaches work their butts off to get us good stuff,” defensive lineman Thomas Olds said. The old field had holes, crabgrass, and sometimes even shards of glass.
The soccer stadium was outfitted with a pro-style synthetic turf that is drought-proof while providing a smoother surface for the ball to roll on.
But the turf raises the game-time temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above natural grass, and can cause skin burns on routine sliding tackles.
“I personally love the field. But it was so hot, I did get a few skid marks, but we had the best field in our league,” Makenna Roa, former SAC midfielder said.
Despite the athletes’ preferences, athletic trainers have expressed reservations.
“Soccer should be played on grass and is meant to be played on grass,” Athletic Trainer Gary Kinney said.
The field inside the John Ward Track was completely gutted and a new combination of sand and sod were put in place. The sod is a blend of Bermuda grass named GM-1, which is also drought friendly, only needing massive amounts of water when it is freshly planted.
“Bermuda is built to take the punishment of football and baseball. That’s what it was designed for,” Athletic Grounds Worker Jesse Garcia said.
However, maintenance does require special procedures to keep it from being cross-pollinated with other grasses.
The facilities department had to purchase a lawn mower at a cost of $30,000 to use only on this field.
“One of the biggest differences is it requires a real mower, not a typical rotary mower. Also you can’t cut it the same all the time. You have to criss-cross it so you don’t develop lines that dip into the grass,” Garcia said.