WARSAW – Phil Jensen knows that the addition of an artificial turf surface at Fisher Field will benefit his football program at WCHS.
Jensen knows even better though that the current transformation project taking place right now will benefit many more students than just those who suit up in helmets and shoulder pads in the fall to play there on Friday nights.
“The fact of the matter is that this project turns this into a facility that can be used by all of our students here,” said coach Jensen in an interview Wednesday in his office just a long touchdown pass away from the ongoing construction on the home field of the Tigers. “The value of that is huge when you are talking about how much use it will get.
“Am I happy to be getting a turf field that gives us a safe facility that we can practice on regardless of the weather? Yes. But, this is the best thing for our school. The field will be able to be used by the band, by P.E. classes and by other athletic teams. It’s also a huge plus for everyone in our community.”
The talk of installing a turf field has floated around the school system for quite some time. The school board approved the project in March after a 10-year, one-million dollar partnership was announced in February between Lutheran Health Network and Kosciusko Community Hospital with the school system.
The project, which was in full gear Wednesday as crews worked on the field, began right after the boys track regional on May 26 and had its official groundbreaking ceremony on May 31. The hope is to have the field done by Aug. 1 with football practice slated to begin on that day and the home opener set for Aug. 26.
The project, which will also include the installation of a new track, is progressing well.
“From the first day after the track regional took place, we’ve had crews of the field working,” noted WCHS Athletic Director Dave Anson, who has been keeping a close eye on the progress of the project. “We’ve been fortunate to have had good working conditions out there for them, and to this point we are a bit ahead of schedule with the work being done inside the track, so that’s good.
“Here soon the carpet can get placed over the rock and the crews working on the track can begin that portion of the project. We’re certainly looking forward to the finished product.”
The old natural grass field was in poor shape and had issues with drainage among other things. The new turf field, which was able to quickly drain the nearly four inches of rain that fell within about an hour on Monday, will save the corporation costs as far as upkeep and maintenance. The facility will also join a growing list of area schools with this type of playing surface. Schools such as Penn, South Bend St. Joseph and East Noble already have the field turf and Goshen is getting the surface too this summer.
Jensen, who is as “old school” as it gets when it comes to the game, knows this is the direction that the game has taken, including his offense that features a shotgun formation with plenty of emphasis on the passing game and speed at the skill positions.
“This is where the game is at now,” noted Jensen of the change in philosophies away from “smash-mouth” football to wide-open pass happy offenses. “This new type of field fits the offense that we run now and it’s great for our program.
“I know that our kids can’t wait for the field to be done and to get the chance to practice and then play on it. Everyone is excited about it.”
The project, which is being financed though the issuing of general obligation bonds by the school corporation, is being handled by The Motz Corporation out of Cincinnati.