There will be something new for Olathe area high school football fans when the 2014 season starts in early September — artificial turf at the Olathe District Activity Center and the College Boulevard Activity Center.
The two artificial turf football fields at the two district stadiums will complete the cycle in the Sunflower League and East Kansas League. This will mean that every school in each of the leagues plays their football games on artificial turf.
The four Olathe area high schools have been practicing on artificial turf fields.
“All four high school have had a turf football field for the last three years,” said Olathe South Athletic Director Robert Kersey.
Incidentally, Kersey is retiring after 14 years at the school and will be replaced by Hays AD Clint Albers.
The two district stadiums will use Shaw Sports Turf. The company estimates that they will use about 800,000 square feet of Shaw Sports Turf.
“They are going to do both football stadiums,” Olathe Northwest Athletic Director Jay Novacek said. “We will add soccer lines to the football stadiums so soccer can be played in them as well.”
But that is not all that the district is going to do at the stadiums.
“We are going to do a soccer field at each complex and the two entire softball fields at each complex,” Novacek said. “And there will be turf on the infields of the two baseball fields at each complex.”
Novacek added that they are going to tear out the west soccer field at CBAC and convert it into a 12-court tennis complex.
“We will leave the old grandstands and press box, which will provide a fantastic fan area for tennis,” he said.
The Shawnee Mission District has an artificial turf softball complex and Lawrence and Lawrence Free State have artificial turf for their spring sports.
The Olathe District will be the first in Johnson County to have artificial turf for baseball.
The monies for the projects comes from a bond issue passed by the voters in the Olathe School District in June of 2013.
The softball and baseball fields will utilize what the company calls the TruHop system.
“TruHop was designed with the help of former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz,” Nathan Henderson, Territory Manager for Shaw Sports Turf said. “Its revolutionary design mirrors the real things in terms of playability and performance, yet provides durability that natural grass can’t rival.”
The project will help athletics in the Olathe School District.
“It provides opportunities for our student/athletes to compete at the highest level,” Olathe East AD Kraig Taylor said. “The ability to play in Kansas climate around the clock is beneficial for practice and games.
“I believe that we will be able to maximize the complexes and enhance student safety.”
Olathe District Athletic Director Lane Green added, “Two years ago, we had 79 athletic contests rained out in the spring. We also had a year in which we had torrential rains the day of the first football games and our fields were ruined for the season.
“If we had Shaw Sports Turf fields then, none of that would have happened.”
Olathe North AD Jason Herman said: “The impact will be tremendous for all Olathe students. It will be innovative and updated. It will be a better surface for our athletes to compete on, our bands to march on, and our community to enjoy great events at. I am excited to see the final results this next fall.”
Shaw Turf’s Henderson said that this is one of the largest synthetic turf projects ever undertaken by a school district.
Construction on the project is now underway and the turf will be installed over the course of the summer months.