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Field Finished: Program success ‘forerunner’ for project, Clay-Chalkville coach says

By Gary Lloyd

CLAY — At times this summer, Clay-Chalkville head football coach Jerry Hood has caught some of his players leaning on the fencing inside Cougar Stadium, just staring.

They were told to keep a safe distance, to stay out of the way of the way of excavators and workers.

The Cougars were staring at the removal of the old grass their cleats tore up on Friday nights, and the installation of a new synthetic turf that they believe could make them just a little bit faster.

The turf installation at Cougar Stadium is now complete.
photo by Gary Lloyd

Players this summer wouldn’t walk through Cougar Stadium to the field at Clay-Chalkville Middle School for practice. They’d instead walk out the front door of the field house, and cut behind the high school and Cougar Stadium visitor seating. After practice is when they’d sneak a peek at construction.

“I hope they see that their hard work and success is the forerunner for something like this, that if you have the type program we try to have and you’re representing in a positive way, good things can happen for you,” Hood said.

The turf installation was completed last week, and a ribbon cutting was held Tuesday. The work began June 17.

Hood said players and community members are “super excited.”

“It’s a fun thing,” he said.

The new field is the result of a partnership between the city of Clay and the Jefferson County Board of Education. Shaw Sports Turf won the bid for the job earlier this year with a bid of $480,000. The Clay City Council in May voted to enter into a facilities use agreement with the Jefferson County Board of Education, in which the city would provide up to $265,000 in exchange for usage of all school sports facilities through June 30, 2029. The board of education then approved the intergovernmental agreement.

“It’s a great cooperative effort between Jefferson County Schools and the city of Clay,” Hood said. “We look forward to being in Jefferson County Schools for the next 50 years.”

A story on the Shaw Sports Turf website quotes Jefferson County Schools Director of New Construction Rafael McDaniel as saying that the turf is “a way to bring the schools and community together.”

“If we had the funds, we’d probably convert all of our fields from grass to synthetic turf,” McDaniel said.

The Shaw Sports Turf article quotes Hood as saying that the field can generate enough revenue to re-pay the cost within five to six years.

According to Shaw Sports Turf, the turf is fast, dense and firm, designed with fiber to maximize player performance and speed. The field features Clay-Chalkville’s “triple C” logo at midfield, and navy blue end zones with “COUGARS” painted in white.

In addition to high school football practices and games, the field will be used for soccer, band practice, cheerleading, lacrosse, Clay-Chalkville Middle School football games and Clay Youth Football games.

“It’s a domino effect,” Hood said. “It’s a no-brainer in this day in time to go with this.”

Over time, the new field could be used to hold events such as Clay May Days.

“We’ve got the place now,” Hood said.

There are immediate advantages for this football season at Cougar Stadium, which begins Aug. 29 in Clay-Chalkville’s second game, against Minor. Players will still wear cleats on the new turf. There are now 120 yards of practice space instead of 70, and it will always be lined. Linemen, who use sleds during practice, will continue to practice on a nearby grass surface.

When it rains, there won’t be mud holes on the field and against the fencing on the sidelines. In years past, when rain would fall on Fridays in the fall, Hood would be out on the field all day with a shovel, filling holes and puddles with sand, a “very discouraging” task, he said. This won’t happen anymore.

“We’re rocking and rolling,” Hood said.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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