SOMERVILLE, NJ – The 2018 Somerville High School Pioneers will defend last year’s state football championship on a brand new artificial turf field that has been installed during the summer at Historic Brooks Field at the Gus Vanderbeek Athletic Complex.
The Group 3 State Champions open their season on the road Aug. 30 against DelBarton High School in Morristown, and won’t dig their cleats into the new turf behind the school at 222 Davenport St. until their Sept. 14 home opener.
Other SHS teams, however, will get a chance to play on the new surface - Varsity Boys’ Soccer against Bernards on Sept. 4th and Varsity Girls’ Soccer against Delaware Valley Regional on Sept. 6;; teams are also expected to scrimmage on the new field before the Varsity Football team opens its home season against North Plainfield on Sept. 14, according to Dr. Tim Teehan, superintendent of schools.
The Girls’ field hockey and Boys’ lacrosse teams will also compete on the new field.
The Immaculata High School Spartans football team, which plays its home games at Brooks Field, will open their season on the new turf Aug. 30.
Removal of the old synthetic turf, which had worn out after 10 years, and installation of the new playing surface cost $399,000, according to Teehan. The project began June 12, with a crew of seven specialists sent north from Georgia by the Astro Turf company doing the work.
Funds for the project came from Board of Education capital funds, with money dedicated and budgeted each year. Other capital improvements like roof repairs and roof replacements come from the capital fund, which helps to avoid spikes in annual school tax increases, according to Teehan.
Ten years ago, the first generation artificial turf field came about through grassroots fundraising, according to Teehan. Efforts to build the turf field were the result of efforts by key community members known as “Team Green”.
In addition, the Board of Education successfully lobbied the county to allocate $1 million towards the cause, as well, Teehan said.
"Since the Board of Education knew such fundraising efforts would not be possible every eight to ten years to fund the scheduled replacement of the turf, the board developed a long term capital project funding plan within the district’s annual budget,” Teehan explained.
By creating a fiscally responsible capital projects plan, the Board of Education is able maintain the facilities and ensure the safety of students, staff, and the community without needing to raise taxes or go out for a referendum,” he added.
The original target date for completion was Aug. 24, but rain delays have pushed that date back to Aug. 27 or 28, according to Teehan.
- All photos are courtesy of the Someville Board of Education.