Field Of Dreams
The referendum that passed last year at Mishawaka High School (MHS) has brought huge changes. From IPads to Apple TVs, the school has almost completely changed its identity, from a school that appeared to be lost in time, to a school that is currently above the curb in new technology.
One thing that has not changed, is the focus placed on the football program. School City of Mishawaka has spent large amounts of money upgrading the Steele Stadium football field. Even cashing in on the selling of Hums park to the School City of Mishawaka for 70,000$ to help with the costs of new lights, drainage system, grass, and a new video board for the field. Mike Faulker, former athletic director, explained, “The shape of the field was bad. It was basically a mud pit with the drainage system” Photo Credit: @mishawakasports Twitter
This has other programs and clubs of Mishawaka feeling rather neglected. MHS junior Quora Neff said, “While it’s super nice, it wasn’t needed. The stadium was pretty as is. The money should be used to maybe fix and upgrade the neglected theater instead! Even if [the theater program] doesn’t bring in a lot of money, they deserve as much attention as everyone else. We could use the money for our robotics team, which has been neglected for too long”.
Others believe that the majority of the funds could’ve been used for a quicker installation of a track. “It really does stink that the seniors won’t be able have a home track meet. they put so much work in,” added Neff.
Mike Faulkner, feels the upgrades were necessary, and some people are misinformed about the project. “I knew we had endless tasks and upgrades on a variety of facilities and grounds throughout the school,” said Faulkner, “In the fall of 2016 nearly three fourths of the way through the football season, I made a site visit to the torn up football field with a sub-contractor that had conducted several tests to the drainage and soil type. At the conclusion of the field tests it was evident that the field had no drainage and the soil was deemed native which enhances compaction, making it difficult for the plant (grass) to grow and establish a deep root system.”
Drainage has been an issue for the field in the past. “To eliminate the drainage issues, consultant David Stacey and his team from Hydro-Seed initiated trenches across the field, starting at the 50 yard line, every eight feet, from sideline to sideline. Going down at a depth of 14” from the 50 yard line to 21” at the back of the end zones was just enough pitch to capture the water and have it flow to an intercepted trench to a drywell to get the water off of the field,” said Faulkner.
The project needs 3-4 years for the roots to be mature, but there seems to be positive results already. “Fast forwarding to the second week of October 2017, fans, players and coaches can continue to enjoy the plush, safe field. Although the field is not 100% mature, it will take at least 3-4 years for the roots to be established in a hardy fashion. While the initial project is complete, ongoing maintenance of topdressing 1/4” annually of sand, seed, icals and daily care is estimated at $12-15,000/annually,” said Faulkner, “The football field in past years, as you know, generally was a mud pit down the middle. This year, the field held up with grass over every square inch! This is exciting to see because the work that was performed was designed for longevity. The first year (this year) we anticipated some areas to be torn up because it has not fully matured to where the roots have established itself under ground. Each year the turf will get more mature and hardy, making it very stable for years to come,” Faulkner concluded.
There was some uncertainty if they should follow through with the project, but it seems to have a positive impact.