SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — For decades, it was just an accepted fact if it rained before or during a football game or soccer match at Jefferson High School, the event would either be postponed to a better weather day, or just played in the slop.
Mud-covered jerseys on those nasty weather days seemed the norm.
Once the popularity of fields with artificial turf got stronger, and costs to install them became more reasonable, there was a lot of talk around the Jefferson community about, perhaps, getting a new turf field. The conversation upticked when Washington High School opened in 2007, featuring a turf field.
The Cougars’ dream of some day playing on a turf field became reality two weeks ago, when Jefferson High School’s new turf field was opened.
“This was an exciting day for Jefferson High School,” Cougars’ football coach Craig Hunter said. “The field looks just amazing. It’s a blessing to be able to have this new turf field to play on.”
The conversion to a turf field cost $950,851 and was part of the $43,732,971 bond approved by Jefferson County voters last November, Hans Fogle, public information officer for Jefferson County Schools said in an email.
“It’s sure better than mud,” Vince Bocchetti, a member of Jefferson’s boys’ soccer team said. “We’re all looking forward to playing on it.”
In her first year as the new principal of Jefferson High School, Mary Beth Group was one of several people getting the chance to cut the ribbon, officially opening the upgraded stadium.
“This was a day we’ve looked forward to for a long time,” Group said. “This was a great day for our student-athletes, musicians, our fans and our alumni.”
Lorelei Bangit, who plays girls soccer at Jefferson, is excited about the fact a turf field means the less likelihood a match would be postponed due to bad weather. “You won’t have to worry about that on the days it rains,” she said. “That’s a good feeling.”
There were some weather issues over the summer which caused a few delays in construction completion, but AstroTurf, the company contracted to install the field, brought in extra crews, at no additional cost, and maxed out more than 65 hours of work weeks to meet the deadline, Fogle said. Group said the staff at Jefferson High School, and its maintenance department, did a great job in assisting with construction where needed.
“We are so proud of this field and the students who will benefit from it,” Group said.
Not only does the athletic program benefit from this upgraded facility, cheerleading and band competitions will share in the excitement.
“I don’t feel like I’m going to fall when I’m out on the field now,” Jennifer Cooper, a band member, said.
Laurie Ogden, a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education, said projects, such as the installation of the new turf field at Jefferson High School are important for the students and for the community.
“It’s wonderful to see it finished,” Ogden said. “We continue to be so thankful that we have a supportive community that recognizes the importance of sports in a well-rounded educational experience.”