GRATERFORD >> It will offer a measure of excitement to a fall season already marked by uncertainty.
Perkiomen Valley School District is undertaking projects to install turf surfaces on two playing field at the high school campus. The football field at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium is well under way and looking to be ready for fall events, and its “lower field” will be undergoing a similar upgrade once the stadium work is finished.
“For the most part, it should be completed in mid-September,” athletic director Larry Glanski said of the stadium work, which will include replacement of the 10-year-old all-weather track. “Putting the track surface down … it will take a couple weeks to do that. We wanted to get the turf in first.”
The placement of the stadium’s turf surface started Tuesday and is on target, weather permitting, to be done by the end of the current week. The installation of in-fill — its primary functions are to protect the backing from UV exposure, as well as add weight and ballast — looks to begin next week.
The timetable for completing the “lower field” is currently early to mid-October. The field will be utilized for soccer and field hockey this fall, baseball and softball in the spring.
The hope is for the turf fields to host 2-3 football games, and 4-5 soccer and field hockey games, this fall. A factor will be how the teams’ competition schedules develop in light of some schools’ deciding to not participate in fall sports, and the later starting dates for events (Sept. 25) established by the Pioneer Athletic Conference in the summer.
Suffice it to say, the football program will enjoy playing its home games on a turf surface whenever that happens.
“We’re ecstatic,” head coach Rob Heist said. “It’s something a lot of teams in the district have worked toward. Seeing it come to fruition is big.
“From a football perspective, it will help 100 percent. Even with the great job our grounds maintenance crew did, the field didn’t drain well. When we got to the playoffs, it was more like our home field was a disadvantage.”
Today was a better day! pic.twitter.com/KlElqCi4kW
— Perk Valley Football (@pv_vikingfb) September 3, 2020
Heist also feels playing on turf suits his players’ style more.
“I think the team thrives on turf,” he said. “We don’t play the style of ground-and-pound on a muddy field. With our speed and athleticism, turf affords us more.”
The field hockey program will be another principal beneficiary of the turf projects. Its “home” games have been staged on outdoor fields at an athletic training center in Parker Ford in recent seasons.
“It will be nice for the girls to get back on campus,” Glanski noted. “The current group of girls haven’t played any home high school games here.”
The “lower field” project will see the installation of turf and markings for such sports as field hockey, soccer, baseball and softball. To enhance its multi-purpose usability, a portable pitcher’s mound will be emplaced for baseball and moved off for softball.
“It’s as important to be flexible as we can,” Glanski said.
The nature of the sports to be played on the fields dictated the types of turf being installed, The “lower field” turf is shorter in height than that of the stadium, which is “more forgiving,” Glanski noted.
LandTech, a company that has done other turf fields in the region, submitted the job bid that was accepted.
The turf project, according to Glanski, has been pursued for much of his time as the district’s athletic director.
“The whole time I’ve been AD, we’ve chased it,” he said. “We formed a task force 1-1/2 years ago … talked to people from the community.”
The project received final approval in early March, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the closing of Pennsylvania schools and businesses classified as “non-essential.”
“It was six weeks of uncertainty, whether it was the right time to do it,” Glanski said. “Our superintendent (Dr. Barbara Russell) kept the dream alive, and Jim Weaver (business manager) and the school board found a way.
“It all came together.”
“I’m readlly thankful to the (school) board and the athletic director,” Heist added. “They were instrumental in bringing this together. It’s awesome to see the process.”