Turf repairs address safety concerns


Photo by Aidan Fogarty

Ava Nicely and Madelyn Shapiro

Brighter lines, fewer turf beads, and a new logo in the center of the Wilson field welcomed students back to school this year. Over the summer, the field was repaired to ensure it would be playable for the 2018-19 year.

After 11 years of heavy use, the Wilson turf had deteriorated to the point where it failed the 2017 impact testing, which measures the amount of shock a field can absorb. The Wilson administration had been discussing the subject of replacing the field for over a year. “It was pretty unanimous that it needed to be replaced,” Wilson Athletic Director Mitch Gore said.

Repairing the turf field was part of an effort by the DCPS Capital Budget and the Department of General Services (DGS), which handles the maintenance of DC government facilities. After assessing its condition, DGS subcontracted a turf field company to complete the repairs.

To improve the turf, they removed some of the rubber, which makes the field lower-impact. Worn down areas like the middle and ends of the field had their turf replaced. Those spots “were coming apart at the seams,” football coach and English teacher Jacob Williams said. There were also some minor repairs made to enhance some of the field’s markings.

There has been clear improvement in the updated patches. “When you step to the big spot in the middle that was fixed, it’s a little bit softer, it’s got a little bit more give to it, it stands up,” Williams said.

Despite the uneven and tough surface of the field, no serious injuries have been attributed to the turf. “We’ve been really fortunate for a field that’s been in for 11 years … It has held up and lasted well,” Gore said.

Without the recent repairs, however, the old turf would have become a hazard for athletes that use the field regularly. When sheets of turf are not completely bound to the field, cleats are prone to getting caught in the seams, possibly causing an injury.

Furthermore, athletes have complained about the turf’s lack of good drainage. “When it rains really hard … it is almost impossible to kick the ball,” said senior Zoe Miller, a player on the girls varsity soccer team. “It would just stop and stay in these puddles that form on the field.”

The field’s current status may be an improvement from last year, but the field has a long way to go to be able to endure its constant usage. Though it was not in the 2017-18 budget, the entire Wilson athletic department along with the surrounding public hope for a complete renovation of the field in the near future.