Turf could resolve Lanett High’s rainy game woes

Published 8:30 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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LANETT — On Monday, Lanett Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Boyd and Lanett High Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Clifford Story met with the Lanett City Council in a work session to make the case for a turf field at Morgan-Washburn Stadium.

Mayor Jamie Heard and members of the council were receptive to the idea, but it’s a long way from being finalized.

There’s no question the stadium’s natural grass playing surface does not drain well. In recent years, LHS home games had to be rescheduled to different venues because of the field not being in good condition due to recent rains. A state playoff game in 2017 was moved to Ram Stadium because of poor playing conditions at Morgan-Washburn. A couple of years ago, an opening-night jamboree involving Lanett, LaFayette, Notasulga and Loachapoka was moved from Lanett High to Handley High in Roanoke because of the playing conditions in Lanett. Lanett’s home game with LaFayette was switched to Opelika for the same reason.

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Superintendent Boyd said she was grateful surrounding schools were willing to allow the use of their fields but that it’s not good for this to be done over and over again.

Artificial surface fields are becoming more and more common, especially for such sports as football, soccer and baseball.

A company in Calhoun, Georgia, for example, has installed artificial turf in more than 20,000 locations worldwide.

“I see this primarily as a safety issue,” Boyd said. “We are to address this in some way. We can’t play sports on a field that’s prone to injury, and we don’t need to keep using someone else’s stadium when the playing conditions at our home stadium are not suitable for a game that week.”

Boyd credits Coach Story on having done his homework on this subject. “He has been looking at every possible solution to this,” Boyd said. “Field turf would totally change the dynamic for us. It drains better and would not leave us in situations where we have to look at other options at where to play our games. A turf field would look great, but that’s not the main reason we would like to do this. The main reason is to do what’s best for the athletes, both for those from Lanett High and those from visiting teams.”

Turf fields have been shown to be ideal for football, soccer and girls softball.

“There is a definite need for this,” Boyd said. “When I was the principal at Lanett High, if it rained on Monday or Tuesday during the football season I would go to the football field that day to see if it would be suitable for a game on Friday night. We don’t need to keep doing this.”

There’s no question a field turf surface would look great. Coach Story has a schematic of what it would look like. The field is a brighter green and the yard lines and sidelines are more clearly seen. The Big L Panther head logo is at midfield and “Lanett” is in huge gold letters in one end zone and “Panthers” in those same big letters in the opposite end zone.

“This would really help our program,” Story said. “We have a nice stadium, and that new field would make it so much better. As Superintendent Boyd said, the main thing is that we have a playing surface that’s safer and holds up better in rainy weather.”

A 1994 graduate of Lanett High, Boyd said she is proud of the success Lanett High teams has had in recent years and that she would like for that to continue in the coming years.