New turf protects players, highlights advances in engineering — By Kelsey Kukaua

The Master’s College Athletics Department launched construction on the new turf of Reese Field on Dec. 10. Its biggest concern was the safety of the programs’ players as the turf had begun to deteriorate under the scorching UV rays of the Southern California sun.

“The turf was just on the front end of a safety issue as the athletes would lose their footing and aesthetically we knew it was breaking down,” said TMC Athletic Director, Steve Waldeck.

The need for a new field arose as the quality of the aged surface began degenerating. With the imitation grass fibers unable to hold the rubber infill, this became an issue for the athletes whose cleats are meant to dig into those surfaces.

The main roles of the Athletic Department included gathering bids from different turf vendors, searching for a local contracting team and overseeing the desired outcome once production was set in motion, all within an aggressive timeline.

The previous turf addition took place nine years ago when the natural grass field was excavated of dirt, supplemented with two draining systems, and leveled with crushed rock. Because of the work done in 2006, the majority of this revival project was based on removing the broken down turf and infill, then installing the new carpet.

This first generation turf technology has drastically changed since then with the type of weave, blend and webbing options available for use.

“The first time seemed a little more systematic … this has been more of working on the areas available,” said TMC Assistant Athletic Director and men’s soccer coach, Jim Rickard, who also headed the original turf installment. He later added, “It wasn’t as smooth of a process as it was last time, but the new turf quality should wear better for longer.”

While majority of the work took place over winter break, the crew came into contact with a few minor delays. The removal company was shocked by the magnitude of the job, especially when workers had to manually remove the extra sand; the job also required more rubber supply that expected.

High winds and rain set back the team at least a week. Other modifications in fencing and walkways extended the process to about nine weeks overall, ambitious for the size of this space, as the task should have taken 3-6 months.

Baseball was able to reclaim its territory in time for its Jan. 30-31 series against Biola.

“It was tough not being able to have that home field advantage on our own turf starting off season,” said sophomore pitcher, Conner Menez. “But we still did alright considering that disadvantage.”

There was also a noticeable difference in how the new turf felt for the athletes.

“I don’t slip as much as when I did with the old turf because it was almost like sliding on just the rubber, not even the carpet,” Menez said.

Along with baseball, women’s soccer kicked off its first practice on Feb. 2 while part of the turf was still being redone.

“It’s hard getting used to because of the thickness of it, which makes the speed of play a lot slower,” said sophomore forward, Stephanie Albright.

The field is still not completely finished as the crew is redoing certain sections.

“It’s a little frustrating because it’s not 100 percent done yet, But it plays nice,” Rickard said.

The Athletic Department expects the project to be fully concluded by the end of the 12-week mark, allowing enough time to even out the remaining infill.

By Kelsey Kukaua

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