By Anthony Jones
The big story for most high school’s athletic programs across Illinois this past season was the constant changes and condensing of seasons due to COVID-19 restrictions. But at Triad High School the year was a story of a new beginning as they debuted their new turf fields to be used by their teams of baseball, football, soccer, band, and more.
Triad’s Athletic Director Kenny Deatherage has already seen huge advantages to having the artificial surfaces, “The new turf surfaces have been extremely helpful since the moment we installed them. As you can imagine, the days of a rained out baseball game or soccer game due to standing water on the stadium field are done! We have already been able to get in multiple games that would have never been played in the same conditions in prior years. We have also been able to steal a few home contests given our facilities have been playable while others were not due to weather related conditions.”
The timing of the new fields also proved impeccable for Triad as well. In a normal school year, boys and girls soccer played their season months apart, but with scheduling changes due to COVID, there was less than 24 hours between their seasons. Schedule changes such as this coupled with teams forced to play more games in a week than normal would have ravaged a grass field, but the turf stood tall.
“We have also been able to steal a few home contests given our facilities have been playable while others were not due to weather related conditions.” Deatherage cited an unexpected advantage on revamping the school’s playing fields with turf and continued, “We end up having more home games due to the amount of teams that want to play on that consistent surface. We have been told on numerous occasions that we now have one of the premier baseball facilities in the entire area. We are very proud of that and will do what we can to take care of all of our facilities so that they last for many years to come!”
Triad’s sports teams certainly helped to give their new fields a great welcoming season as they dominated their opponents on it. Their baseball, football, boys soccer, and girls soccer teams combined for a 41-5 mark overall and went 20-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference play on their home turf this year. Their turf has already been used in eight playoff contests, including two IHSA Regional and a Sectional title game.
Looking towards the future Triad’s athletic director sees the artificial surface helping Triad play host in more big games than before, “I like to think that our programs have proven over the years that we can and will compete with anyone at this point, and now we have the facilities to match our caliber of play. In years past, we have hosted high level IHSA contests but have had to move the Championship games to other turf locations for consistency purposes due to the quality of our surfaces at that time. I am proud to say that our new facilities will allow us to host more high level games and we can keep those Championship games right here at THS. Our programs and coaches put in a ton of work to get our programs to the next level and now thanks to our school board, our tremendous sponsors, and our community, we have the facilities to match.”
Looking to the future and with a broader scope than just varsity sports, the artificial surface have been a big benefit as well, “To be honest, I cannot think of any unexpected disadvantages for having our turf facilities. We have been able to utilize our new surfaces by many teams, P.E. classes, as well as our tremendous Band! And when the turf is not being used, we have been able to rent out our facilities to create a source of revenue to set aside for the future of replacing the turf surface many years down the road!”