Boosters pave the way for new fields
Armando Martinez with LPS Pavement Company works on laying bricks along Naughton Field at New Trier West Campus August 23, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:28PM
WINNETKA — A decade-long desire for a synthetic playing surface at New Trier High School’s Naughton Field is finally a reality thanks to a pledge from the booster club through their the Tackle the Turf campaign.
In addition to three new turf fields being installed this fall, the main football field will debut a new stadium plaza, containing hundreds of brick pavers inscribed with the names and messages of donors.
Recent safety improvements and lower pricing in synthetic turf played a role in the board of education’s consideration of a new field. When the booster club pledged $1 million toward the $3.3 million cost, the project was a go.
“We’ve always been interested in being involved in this project,” said club President Heather Blackwell. “We’re going to continue to approach other alumni and approaching corporate donors. We’re excited to share this with the community.”
Athletic director Randy Oberembt said the idea to look at an artificial surface field began in 2003, but really picked up in 2007. The project eventually grew to include a total of 2.5 new turf fields for the high school.
“(The fields) will be a classroom for seven hours a day,” Oberembt said of the three fields, which will serve more than New Trier’s sports teams. “They’ll get tremendous utility on there that they couldn’t get out of natural surfaces.”
New Trier’s kinetic wellness (physical education) classes, intramural sports, summer camps, clinics and community events can use any of the fields. In the past Oberembt said the main football field would sit unused over summer to allow the grass to recover after fall, winter and spring sports, but now will be used year-round.
The booster club recently passed the $350,000 mark as they work toward their $1 million goal. School officials estimate use of the stadium will increase from about 250 hours per year to well over 2,000 hours.
Outgoing booster club president Kaci Smith joined the club in 2009 and said a new turf field has been in discussions for as long as she’s been associated with New Trier High School.
“The turf doesn’t just touch the student athletes, but all the students at the school,” Smith said. “It’ll be a great improvement for the school. It was a very, very exciting process to go through with the hard work of so many people.”
As part of their fundraising efforts the booster club hosted two evenings with the Second City, solicited donations from parents and alumni and began the brick paver program for the new stadium plaza. Brick pavers can be purchased for between $100-$500 and are available through New Trier’s athletic department website.
A ribbon cutting to officially open the new field will take place before the first home football game kicks off against Warren Township High School Aug. 31.
“We think it makes a great graduation gift,” Smith said of the brick pavers. “People can be a legacy to this wonderful improvement going on at this school. It will be a thrill to watch that ribbon cutting.’’