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May 9, 2014

SYNTHETIC AGE: Three area schools switching to turf

Floyd, New Albany Providence to have surface by next school year

NEW ALBANY — On Friday nights in Southern Indiana, high school football fans have gotten used to several sights on the gridiron like players blocking and tackling, cheerleaders inspiring the home crowd and students rooting for their team.

Next football season, three area schools each will make a major change to their respective Friday Night environment.

Floyd Central, New Albany and Providence will be switching from a grass surface to synthetic turf fields.

Last January, New Albany High School football coach Charlie Fields and Floyd Central High School football coach Brian Glesing made their pitch to the New Albany-Floyd County school board to approve the installation of synthetic turf at each school’s football stadiums. A few weeks later, the board voted in favor of changing each field to synthetic turf.

“It’s more of a need than a want,” Fields said in a recent interview.

Late last month, Providence announced it was installing synthetic turf at Murphy Stadium. Providence athletic director Mickey Golembeski did the research on the artificial surface for the last four to five years and says there are several benefits having a turf field.

“It has several multiuse purposes and it is always available in all sorts of weather. We are putting in the latest and greatest turf there is. It is top of the line,” Golembeski said. “What made it happen at this point in time was the donation money coming in for it. It is something we want to get done.”

According to the IHSAA, at least 44 schools in Indiana have switched to synthetic turf football fields. Twenty-six of the 32 schools that play football in Class 6A — the state’s top division that includes New Albany and Jeffersonville — have synthetic turf.

New Albany athletic director Don Unruh said the move to synthetic turf is needed to keep up with the competition. The Bulldogs and the Red Devils are in Class 6A Sectional 8 with Center Grove and Columbus North. Both of those schools have synthetic turf.

“It puts our kids on an even playing field at that level,” Unruh said.


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