Lack of field space leads to disputes over Downes turf


Dan Friedman

The football team prepares to practice at Downes Field shortly after school. This year, the team has been sharing their practice location with the field hockey team.

Sandeep Gingipalli, Sports Editor

Student athletes furiously sprint across the campus in an effort to make it to practice on time. It is a common sighting throughout the year, but it is especially prevalent with the coming of the brisk air that heralds the fall sports season.

In addition to the problems related to the distance of the practice fields from the high school, the field hockey team and football team must share Downes Field this season. This has created some new challenges and extra stress for both teams.

Prior to this season, the field hockey team practiced at Larz Anderson Field. However, the new field hockey coach Emily Hunt wanted the team to practice on turf ground.

“One of the first things that I addressed was that field hockey is a sport played on turf and to be able to keep up with the rest of the teams in the league, it’s very important that we are able to practice on turf,” Hunt said.

The field hockey team’s move to turf resulted in the split of Downes Field between the football team and the field hockey team. This move has created challenges for both groups.

According to the new head coach of the football team, Chad Hunte, the team has had to make some adjustments. Now the freshman team has to practice on the grass instead of the turf.

However, the team is still able to run its full playbook and generally maintain the same quality of practice that they were able to hold in the past.

According to coach Hunt of the field hockey team, it has been hard to not to have a full field to practice game strategy and do full field conditioning. However, the two coaches were able to work out a fair schedule.

According to junior Zaid Shah, a lineman for the football team, the presence of the field hockey team has not impacted the team negatively, as they still have space to practice.

Sophomore Alex Murray, a field hockey player, views the split of the field as a minor inconvenience.

“I don’t mind sharing the field with the football players, but it would be nice if we could have a field for ourselves,” Murray said. “However, the coaches have done a good job working out who gets the field and when.”

Although the split has brought slight inconveniences to both teams, the distance of the field from the school has presented a much larger issue.

“Some of the field hockey players walk, and it’s a good 15 to 20 minute walk, and sometimes it’s difficult especially on game days to get in a good warmup,” Hunt said.

According to Hunte, the distance of the field from the school has made it harder for the football team to start practice at the time that they would like to.

Both coaches agree that a field closer to the school would also increase student interest in the sports.

According to Hunt, field hockey is not a sport that a lot of students know about. Having a field in front of the school would create an increase in student support.

Hunte also believes that a closer field would increase the number of students attending games.

“Kids seeing football and having it right there in front of them will cause more people to show up and support,” Hunte said. “I will say that the last two games the support has been amazing, the student section has been loud. It’s been great and I think we have more people seeing our sport and more kids coming out.”