Give our athletes and coaches a true ‘home field’ advantage

To the Editor:
We write in regards to support for a turf athletic field at Guilderland High School. Investing in a turf field would have many benefits for the whole Guilderland school community from the maintenance crews to the student athletes who would both practice and represent their school on that turf field.

Our student athletes are representatives of our school district’s talents and spirit, and providing them with a field surface to excel on is, respectfully, overdue.

A turf field would reduce lawn maintenance and increase safety for our student athletes, who would now be able to safely play in weather conditions that would normally threaten scheduled practices and games. (Turf fields don’t flood like grass fields and provide a more stable surface.) An added bonus would be less canceling and rescheduling of games.

A turf field would also allow Guilderland teams to remain competitive. The same sport played on grass is very different from play on turf. Most area schools now have turf fields that provide their athletes an advantage over our athletes who are unable to access practices on a turf surface.

Our field hockey team has seen firsthand the disadvantages of not having access to turf. Our oldest daughter joined the program in eighth grade and began playing on grass. It was evident even to us “newbies” that, when our team went up against schools on their turf fields, that we were not prepared to truly compete.

Our field hockey program, led by Coach Jennifer Sykes, then made turf access a priority. Her program began fundraising so that Guilderland’s team would not face that disadvantage.

The field hockey team has paid approximately $12,000  a year these past couple of years (through fundraisers!) just to have our girls take the field on a “level” playing field. That is all anyone wants for their kids.

This takes a lot of work and coordination from the coaches, players, and families. The team has figured out how to get all players safely to and from Afrim’s for practices and games — about 15 minutes from school. Traveling to practice takes precious time away from these athletes who balance school, extracurricular activities, and their sport.

Before COVID hit, delivering an alternative sports season, this hard-working team brought home the Section II championship! I’m sure if you asked any field hockey enthusiast, they would tell you that having that turf access played a significant part in the ability to bring home that honor.

Can you just imagine what a dedicated and hard-working team like this could achieve together if some of that fundraising effort could instead be placed back into learning and excelling at playing the game? Having a home turf field would lessen that stress of having to fundraise just to play competitively.

Just as important, it would build a stronger school spirit amongst players and their peers who could catch a game while waiting for a ride home or spark a new interest in a sport they otherwise would not be able to see in action.

We strongly hope that the community will pass the capital project that includes providing a turf field to our athletes.  This will give all Guilderland athletes the ability to compete on level with their competitors. 

The sooner the process is started, the sooner the benefits for the community, which will be seen from the groundskeepers, to the athletes, to their peers who can easily watch and support their friends on the field — at their “Guilderland Home.”

These athletes and coaches have the determination, perseverance and grit needed to excel; now let’s give them a true “home field” advantage

Kimberly King


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