NHS Field Improvements Coming Soon
By Dharma Bartram
Novato High School sports fields and practice facilities will be receiving a long overdue and necessary update in the near future, thanks to the Measure G bond.
The first big project will be the building of a multipurpose practice facility, which will be located behind the baseball field, where the current soccer field is.
Novato High Principal Matt Baldwin detailed the plans for the practice facility.
“The multipurpose is going to be a soccer field that will have soccer lines and male and female lacrosse lines. It could be used for football practice but not to play a regulation football game,” said Baldwin. “We were also looking at the possibility of doing a JV baseball practice field out there, where you have a movable backstop that can roll over there and pegs we can put bases in as well.”
Baldwin explained that the rationale behind the new practice field is that during the winter, NHS soccer teams practice and play games as lacrosse prepares for their season on the same field. Because there are no lights, which Baldwin said “we are never going to have” (at least in the near future), all activities must be done by 5 p.m. in the winter time, making it nearly impossible to allot proper time for each team.
During the Spring, all lacrosse teams must share the field as track practices around them. With baseball nearby, this can become very hectic. The multipurpose field would allow teams to practice unencumbered, as they would have to share the field less.
Michael Woolard, the NUSD Executive Director of Facilities, commented on the various ways in which this practice field will be used by Novato students and community members once installed.
“First and foremost, it will provide a safe, usable workout area for all P.E. students that can even be utilized during inclement weather due to the quick drainage system. This new synthetic turf field will also provide much needed additional practice field space for boys/girls soccer to offset the very limited availability of the football field and the current grass field that is mostly unusable during the winter season. In addition, it will provide the same additional practice field space for boys/girls lacrosse to offset the limited availability of the football field during the spring season, during which boys/girls track also competes for limited use of the field/track.” said Woolard. “Outside of Novato High use, the 2nd practice field can also be utilized by the local community and other sports clubs as a practice/game field.”
The multipurpose field will cost about $2.6 million and the football field will also be receiving improvements, costing about $1.2 million, all of which will be paid for by the Measure G bond.
The baseball and softball fields will also likely be improved. Parents have voiced their concerns to the board and suggested that turf is put in place in order to replace damaged grass, weeds and gopher holes.
Varsity baseball head coach Don MacQuarrie explained why Novato’s baseball field is not exactly up to par.
“The NHS baseball field is very typical of most Marin County public school baseball fields. The school districts generally do not spend much time to improve or even maintain the fields. They usually will cut the grass (or grass-like substance) and provide water. Many of the districts are short staffed, and have a lot of area within their district to maintain. So, the maintenance of your baseball facilities either deteriorate, or you use volunteers to keep them up,” said Coach MacQuarrie.
Senior captain Bryan Darlington detailed how the current state of the field has impacted the baseball program.
“The quality has actually really affected play over the last few years,” said Darlington. “Just last year we had a player in the infield get hit with a ball because of a "bad hop" and it took him down for a while. Also, the outfield has so many potholes that rolled ankles are going to become a common occurrence, and broken bones could even follow. A turf field would take away almost all of the danger and a lot of the maintenance issues. I feel like it would be a good investment for the school, and it would be a way to up the program. It would be more inviting because the school would actually be showing that they care.”
Parents and players alike have had to maintain the field previously, which is not only cumbersome but has posed some issues.
Darlington also weighed in on how the field is currently maintained.
“As for field maintenance, we're kinda on our own. The only reason anything has been done to improve the field is because a few dads and a bunch of players are willing to dedicate our own time and resources to improve our field ourselves. The district barely ever helps, even during the season,” said Darlington.
MacQuarrie expressed gratitude for having dedicated parents and his hopes for the near future.
“Novato High School is very fortunate to have energetic and dedicated families who are looking at improving our field and our practice facility,” said Macquarrie. “We are lucky to have available space around our baseball facility. We are working at improving areas next to the baseball diamond so that in the very near future, Novato baseball will have the necessary practice facility that will allow us to improve our skills to help level the competitive playing field.”
Much like baseball, the softball field has also been maintained by parents in the past and is in need of some improvements.
Varsity softball head coach Eleni Katsaros detailed the need for updates and how they would benefit the program.
“The field has been in serious need of love for years,” said Katsaros. “It’s a great field, it’s just kind of sad and the upkeep of the infield and the grass seems to have been lost in the mix of things. An improved facility would greatly lessen the amount of sprained ankles and injuries we have. I think having a nice field would also be more inviting or girls to want to come and play for us. It’s no different than anything else in life, people are attracted to nice things!”
The softball field would receive the same updates as the baseball field, however, that’s not all the softball field requires. Recently a 10-foot sinkhole has been discovered on the field, likely caused by a drainage pipe that runs below it.
Katsaros explained the measures that must be taken saying, “As of now it looks like there need to be some repairs to a drain pipe which was causing the problem. Once this is done they should be able to fill the sinkhole and get our field back in shape, hopefully by our first home game on March 8th.”
Baldwin stated that the total cost for turfing the softball and baseball field, updating the football field and installing the multipurpose practice field will add up to somewhere between $7 and $8.5 million in total.
According to Baldwin, the football field is scheduled to receive its updates this summer, while the multipurpose practice facility will be put into place within the next year or year and a half. The turfing of both the baseball and softball fields would be completed subsequent to the prior two projects.
These much-needed updates will hopefully reinvigorate Novato High sports and better enable our athletes to do their best and excel.