by Hale Hughes
Woodville ISD has started the process to install a new turf field for the upcoming football season.
Woodville school board members have selected Hellas Construction for the task. Hellas is based out of Austin and is the premier turf company with multiple choices of turf to choose from. Being from Texas, Hellas has become the "go-to" organization for turf installation for a thousands of Texas high schools, American universities, semi-pro and pro stadiums. Their success in Texas has helped Hellas make the leap to being a national leader with teams all over America from California to Florida choosing Hellas for their turf needs. Hellas' footprint is unsurpassed in the turf market. They have completed thousands of playing venues, including the Cowboys' AT+T Stadium, Baylor's new McLane Stadium, University of California and Texas Tech to mention a handful.
Woodville is the newest member to join the Hellas turf team and has elected to go with their top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art newest turf—the Matrix® Turf system and Geo Plus. This premier turf has organic and eco-friendly infill (mulch matter) and is recognized for its playability and cooler temperatures. The new turf will be installed over Hellas' Cushdrain® shock pad, which is an elastic layer that is paved-in-place over the laser-graded foundation and will improve drainage, increase longevity, and dissipate the point of impact for athletes.
Excitement around the town, school, students and faculty is evident when seeing the heavy equipment removing the sod and topsoil from the football field. Woodville head football coach Mike Waldie was enthusiastic when explaining the premier turf to be installed. "Most turf fields have the little rubber pellets in it. This Geo-Tec turf field is the most advanced version of turf. We won't have the black rubber pellets anymore. It's all a mulch, a more natural texture." Waldie continued, "This new Geo-Tec turf is better for a couple of reasons. First, you won't have any of the pellet 'splash' anymore—it won't get in your eyes, etc. Secondly, it is guaranteed to be 40-45 degrees cooler than previous artificial turfs, which is huge here in East Texas." Waldie went on to say that this turf is so new that Woodville was one of the first teams—high school, collegiate, or pro to have this type of playing turf installed. "It's exciting to have the top-of-the-line, newest field possible."
Waldie has coached teams on turf before his tenure at Woodville and is comfortable with the playing surface. He said, "Bottom line is this: Getting a multi-purpose turf field—no doubt a commitment for football—but what it can be used for year-round as far as off-season, soccer, track, baseball and softball is immeasurable. Teams will have an advantage to be able to practice on it if they choose to. Waldie brought up another Friday night staple regarding the turf—The WHS marching band. "There's so many things about the turf—consider the band. They work on getting ready for huge competitions and they've had to paint lines on a concrete parking lot so they can practice without ruining the grass on the football field. Now, they'll have a turf field they can use whenever they want." Waldie commented on the resiliency and durability of the turf by adding this, "We could even host a marching band competition and not worry about the wear to the field. From a hosting standpoint, people really think about the advantage of having turf brings to your community. There are so many other true multi-purpose opportunities this turf field will have."
Waldie also addressed the new turf from a practice from a point-of-view, both in-season and off-season:
Regarding the spring season: "We just went through the wettest spring in recent memory, and all of those rainy days, we missed getting practice reps in. We were supposed to have 18 practices in the month of May for our version of spring football and were only able to get seven of them in due to inclement weather or poor field conditions." Waldie stated. "Having a turf field will negate that scenario in the future. Unless it is pouring rain at that moment, turf fields are dry and ready to play or practice on, whereas grass fields are soaked and you have to wait hours or days for it to dry."
Regarding the fall season: "I can't tell you how many times last year we had to go to the old middle school gym to practice. We probably spent at least 10 days in there last year, and when you talk about the lack of prep—only having three days to get ready for a Friday night football game, and one week we had to go into the gym twice. That won't be an issue with a turf field". Waldie explains, "We may have a day in which it rains during practice, but we can come in, let that weather pass and be able to go out 10 minutes later and not be relegated to a gym practice due to wet field conditions."
Waldie's enthusiasm was as evident as it was contagious. He continued to explain the impact he expects the turf to make. "It is just unbelievably exciting as far as the progression that I think we can make from the lack of missed practices and prep time."
According to Waldie, "When you can get the playing surface perfect, theoretically there are no 'advantage factors' that affect the outcome of the game. Having a turf field feeds into our current strengths—a wide open offense, and speed is one of our strengths. This turf field is going to allow us to control what we want to do offensively and defensively and not let a playing surface become a factor in the game plan—and that's huge—immeasurable at times."
The turf is expected to be completed before the season begins. Homecoming vs Joaquin on Friday, September 4 will be the first game on the new turf.