Varsity Extra

West Ada high schools weighing the future of their turf fields

The turf fields at Meridian, Eagle and Rocky Mountain high schools are nearing the end of their lifespan, leaving the West Ada School District deliberating how, or if, it will replace them.

West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark will deliver a report to the school district’s board on options for replacing the turf field at Meridian High, the first up for replacement, during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the district office.

The turf at Meridian, which hosts the school’s football and boys and girls soccer teams, is nine years old, and turf fields typically last 10 years. But controversy surrounded the district when Clark told the Meridian Press, a weekly newspaper, two weeks ago that the Meridian turf is unsafe because seams joining pieces are coming apart.

Eric Exline, the director of community relations for the state’s largest school district, said West Ada has realized after more research it can safely get another year, or possibly two, out of Meridian’s turf.

“She was just basing that on some initial opinions that our maintenance staff had gotten,” Exline said. “She was just speaking on what she had been told at that point. But then she went into a bit more research into it.”

Booster clubs paid all the turf and installation costs for fields at Meridian, Eagle and Rocky Mountain. The district didn’t contribute any money, Exline said, adding the district has to weigh its role in restoring those fields in the future.

Two of the district’s schools — Mountain View and Centennial — play on grass football fields with additional fields for soccer. And a planned new high school at Amity and Eagle roads sits on 40 acres, limiting options for separate fields for separate sports.

Exline said the rest of the high schools in the district reside on lots 50 acres or larger.

“The broader picture is what will the district do going forward,” Exline said. “Are we going to replace them? Are we going to go back to grass? There is also the additional issue of the future high school site. Really, you’d almost need the turf (there) in order to have enough playing field space or a field that you can use regularly enough.”

The Warrior Football Boosters paid approximately $400,000 to install Meridian’s field in 2006, taking out a loan for $253,000. Nicki Witt, president of the club, said the group paid off that loan in December.

Witt said a grass field could not handle the usage the school needs and wants to see the district stick with a turf field. She said with one to two football games a week, a grass field couldn’t also handle boys and girls soccer games, not to mention practices for all three sports.

“We’re trying to get as many parents and students as we can to ask as many questions as we can to show what the school wants,” Witt said. “We want to keep the turf.

“We have cheer. We have lacrosse. We have soccer. It’s not just football. If we don’t have that field, our only practice spot is clear back behind the softball and baseball fields, and it’s not a big enough area for 100-plus boys to practice football.”

Meridian’s field also hosts home games for the Cole Valley Christian football team. And the district’s three turf fields host the state boys and girls soccer tournaments every other year.

After paying for the field the first time, Witt hopes the district doesn’t turn to the booster club again.

“We had hoped we wouldn’t be asked to help to replace it again,” she said. “We were the only ones that paid for it last time. None of the other booster clubs helped us pay for it.

“If we were having to replace it at that 10-year mark, we were hoping the school district would step up and put in part of it. And then with all the other clubs, we’d be able to come up with the rest.”

Eagle also installed its turf field in 2006, and Eagle Athletic Director Kimber Chrz said the school is a year or two away from needing to replace it. Chrz said Eagle’s booster club is still paying off its initial loan.

Eagle Football Boosters President Kevin Plew said the district told him he didn’t need to set aside the $200,000 to $250,000 to replace Eagle’s turf.

“We have been told all along, when the turf is ready, they will replace it,” Plew said. “In business terms, that means replace the turf. But in political terms, that may have been, ‘We’ll put grass in.’

“Maybe that was our misunderstanding.”

TWO TRACKS SLATED FOR OVERHAUL

The track surfaces at Borah and Capital high schools will be redone over the summer, according to Boise School District Deputy Superintendent Coby Dennis.

The district plans to convert the aging tracks at both schools from six lanes to eight. Years of use and weather exposure have resulted in some bubbling and depression on the surfaces.

The construction will be paid for using money the district received from a class-action settlement by the Idaho State Insurance Fund, which deals with worker compensation, over the amount of money it distributed in dividends to policy holders.

The work is expected to begin in June and wrap up by the end of September.

BOISE JUNIOR COMMITS TO BOISE STATE

Isabelle Butler of Boise High has committed to play softball for the Broncos.

Butler is a three-year starter at shortstop and is batting .605 this season with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. She has an on-base percentage of .667, a slugging percentage of 1.150 and a 94 percent fielding percentage.

Butler also had offers from Boston College, Pomona Pitzer and McCook College, Boise coach Brian Barber said.

EAGLE SOFTBALL NO. 17 IN NATIONAL POLL

The undefeated Mustangs moved up one spot in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 25 softball rankings. Since moving into the top 25 two weeks ago, Eagle has routed five opponents by a combined score of 84-7.

VALLIVUE HIRES VOLLEYBALL COACH

Former Nampa coach Allison James-Lodahl will take over the Falcons for the 2015 season, Athletic Director Jeremy Bergquist announced Monday.

James-Lodahl, who is finishing a teaching contract in Beijing, played volleyball at Northwest Nazarene before coaching five years with Club Idaho Gold and six years at Nampa, including two years as the head coach.

DIETRICH COACH ON E:60 ON WEDNESDAY

The ESPN news magazine show will air its full-length story on Dietrich girls basketball coach Acey Shaw on its Wednesday program, which starts at 5 p.m.

Camera crews followed Shaw this season as Dietrich searched for its fifth straight title. Shaw fell ill with a rare neurological disorder after leading the Blue Devils to their first title in 2011, but he has remained the coach.

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma narrates the story.

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