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AD, parent: School district fields in bad shape

March 17, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Greencastle-Antrim High School Girls Soccer players Sarah Gipe, left, and Emiley Maiorana, right, practice with teammates Thursday afternoon.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Two football players have been sidelined from injuries caused by the poor conditions of Greencastle-Antrim's Kaley Stadium football field and district athletic director Vicki Ritchey said it's only a matter of time before a PIAA official shuts down the fields because they're unsafe.

"It's been nothing more than pure luck that we haven't seen more serious injuries," Ritchey said Thursday. "I don't think we're providing the safest environment for them in our field conditions."

Blue Devil football player Ian Spencer and several of his teammates wear ankle braces so they don't twist an ankle from the divots and ruts on the football field.

His father, David Spencer, told the board that repairs can't wait.

"This is not a want. This is a need," said David Spencer, who said his son shows promise of playing football on the collegiate level.

"The field is crap. Our practice field, after every play, is like a big dust bowl. You step foot on it, and there are inches of dust. After every practice you wipe your mouth and there's dust. You blow your nose and there's dust," Ian Spencer said.

"I'm afraid my taxes are going to go up because if we get one kid hurt — it's going to raise taxes," said David Spencer. "If someone gets hurt I think the district will lose the case."

It's not just the football field that is in rough shape.

Ritchey said that the district's fields are among the worst in the Mid Penn Conference and in all of P.I.A.A. District 3.

"The track and fields are unsafe for use and pose liability issues for the district," Ritchey told Greencastle-Antrim School Board members during its meeting Thursday night.

More than 600 students in grades seven through 12 use the fields for athletics and band-related events.

Holes in the track have forced the district to cancel home track and field meets that Ritchey said is costing the district double what it normally pays in transportation costs for track meets.

Overuse has taken a toll on the district's two fields — used for practice and games — as well as four smaller grass fields.

"There's no time for (the grass) to rest and replenish because we're on them constantly. In the summer you fight the fight with how much water you have," Ritchey said. "We have made attempts to drill wells several years ago — in the hopes of getting some sort of watering system.

But, she said they dug so far down with no success.

"I believe because of the demand on our fields synthetic turf is the answer without having a watering system that we're going to water them everyday. Grass surfaces just aren't meant to maintain the number of events we put on our fields," she said.

The cost of installing a synthetic field is approximately $2 million.

Known for its athletic accomplishments, Ritchey said, "we owe it to our student-athletes to provide them with safe and efficient playing surfaces."

This year, G-A won Mid Penn Conference division championships in football, field hockey, volleyball, girls cross country and boys basketball.

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Capital Campaign

The public is invited to a meeting to discuss embarking on a capital campaign for GASD.

When: April 13 at 7 p.m.

When: Greencastle-Antrim Middle School library

What: The meeting will discuss the possibility of a capital campaign to help fund future track, stadium complex renovations and renovations to the middle school/high school complex.

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