Brownstown Central’s football program plans to strike while the proverbial iron stays hot.
The school boasts some top-notch athletes, coaches and parents overseeing operations, but there is still something lacking in their equation — improved facilities.
While the school board has approved a project that will (among other changes) tear down and replace the home stands of Blevins Memorial Stadium, constructed in 1964, there’s one clear consensus still needing help — the game field needs some work.
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Coming off a season in which the varsity football team went 12-2, winning Mid-Southern Conference, sectional and regional titles, Brownstown Central High School hopes to have a turf field by 2018. The turf is expected to cost around $600,000.
Last month, varsity head coach Reed May pulled together a group of his coaches and the Parents Offering Positive Support Club to form a turf committee.
The committee has created a petition to gain signatures, both hard copy and online, to educate and promote turf in Brownstown.
May also sent petition forms in the mail with his monthly newsletter.
On March 14, the proposal will be discussed during a school board meeting in the high school library.
“We plan to get as many football players, from third to 12th grades, as well as parents and the community to come to the meeting and show our support,” said Nathan Patman, a P.O.P.S. Club and turf committee member. “We will present the school board with the signatures that we have obtained on our petition and ask them to include the turf field in a proposed 2018 building project.”
May said a member of the community will put on the presentation, and he hopes to have athletics directors from other schools that have turf and a turf construction company present at the meeting.
This past season, the Braves played on turf fields at Seymour, Southridge and Lawrenceburg.
For the regional Nov. 11, the Braves hosted Evansville Memorial.
May said he hopes the board saw the value of turf firsthand at the team’s away games and recognized how other schools view their field.
“All the (Evansville) Memorial (attendees) complained and griped that the dirt field was terrible, and it was,” May said. “It was a terrible field to host a regional championship. It’s kind of embarrassing. Then we got to play Lawrenceburg, where the community again got to see a great facility. Last year, we played at Gibson Southern at a great facility. Every time you drive by Columbus or in Indianapolis, you see their beautiful facilities.”
Driving down Elm Street to the high school, the first facility you see is the football field.
With open enrollment across the state, May said every bit makes a difference when incoming students are choosing schools.
“The bottom line is that whether we like it or not, we are competing for students with Seymour and Trinity (Lutheran),” May said. “Seymour has done a great job in the last few years, putting forth a lot of effort and resources to improve the school itself and all of the athletic facilities, including the brand-new turf soccer and football fields in 2016.
“Enticing, modern facilities can have a huge impact on kids and their parents to chose one school over another,” he said. “If we do not improve our facilities to remain attractive to those students, then we will continue to see a decline in our enrollment, and as we all know, enrollment equals funding. If we do nothing, then we run the risk of losing students, which takes away budget, which prevents these types of projects, which causes us to lose more students, and it can snowball to a place that we don’t want to be. We must act now to prevent this from happening.”
May said he has discussed enrollment with other schools and how new facilities impact change.
“I think that part of the problem is that some people haven’t seen these other facilities and what they can do,” May said. “Lawrenceburg, at the region meeting, made the comment that it has attracted students to them. People drive by Lawrenceburg and say, ‘Wow! Look at this.’ It benefits your entire community and school system because you’re modernizing. Drive down Elm Street, look to your left, and you see a stadium and goal posts from 1964, a field that was dirt during the tournament run.”
Should the turf project get pushed through, the school likely would expand its parking on the southwest side of the school and eliminate a practice field.
May said they would ideally keep one practice field so there aren’t conflicts with 56ers, middle school and junior varsity games and varsity practices. The flag football program also uses the game field.
In the past, due to poor field conditions, some games had to be canceled so the game field wasn’t destroyed by Friday night’s contest.
At the end of the season, the team runs into a problem of where to practice. If there is bad weather, the practice field is either under water or in poor shape, which could lead to injuries.
The team then practices on the game field or uses the auxiliary gym.
If it uses the game field, it could damage the field, which could hurt the condition of the field for a home tournament game.
Should the football team use the gym, then the basketball team either practices later or does not practice.
With a turf field, they would practice there regardless of rainfall.
“I wouldn’t have to cancel a middle school game because of worrying about the field for Friday night,” May said. “I’ve had to cancel JV games and tell the band they can’t practice on there.”
If they get rid of the practice fields entirely, which May said was estimated to save $32,000 yearly in maintenance, the teams could use the middle school for practices if need be.
Like the 2017 project, the 2018 proposal wouldn’t change property taxes, May said.
“It got voted down (in the past) in part that a lot of people are worried about their property taxes,” May said. “With this, we could do it without raising any property taxes. I think that’s extremely important because people are still extremely worried. To my understanding, talking to the administration, we can do it without the taxes going up.”
The turf would serve more than just the football team.
“Physical education classes can use it,” May said. “Baseball and softball teams can use it. A lot of times, their fields are underwater. The band could use it for their practices. The community could use it.
“A perfect example is elementary track and field day,” he said. “Every year, come track season, I rope off the game field because we just resodded it. The teachers aren’t happy with me, but I have to keep people off because it’s new sod. Now, they could be on the field. I think a lot of people don’t know what else it could be used for, even community events.”
To learn more about the petition, visit thepetitionsite.com/991/090/020/brownstown-central-football-turf-project.