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Laying the Groundwork Written by Ben Hogan, Photo by Leah Harrington The 2011-2012 school year just wrapped up, but Evangelical Christian School (ECS) already has big plans for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. ECS has installed a new turf onto their athletic field as part of a big renovation project for their athletic facilities.

well as being teammates with current Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. Walters knew upon his arrival that he had his work cut out for him. He was not only expected to keep up the expectations for a football program that has had plenty of

Things took off from there and now there are many college and high school fields that have been installed by AstroTurf, including Florida State, Oregon, and Louisville. They are also the official artificial turf of Major League Baseball. The type of field ECS is installing is the GameDay Grass 3D60 Xtreme surface. The surface itself has the technology to lower the surface temperature by 18%. It also has something called the “RootZone,” which provides a more consistent playing surface. According to the press release, “A study at Michigan State University, funded by NFL Charities, found that AstroTurf GameDay Grass systems looked and performed more like natural grass than any other synthetic product measured, also making it the safest option.” The cost of the new turf and installation is $1.3 million and will be funded by generous donations from family and friends of ECS. The new field will be Legends Field and will be dedicated on August 16 before a scrimmage vs. Germantown. Also at that game, the presentation of the first class of the Legends Hall of Fame. Walters says, “Each year we will elect a couple of coaches that made an impact on students/ athletes through living the athletic mission of Evangelical Christian School.”

Even though it will not be used for actual athletic competition, the field will be used throughout the summer for practices and camps. In fact, things got underway at the ECS Jr. Football Camp from May 29 - 31. The groundwork for this renovation was laid in 2010 when the school hired Geoff Walters to be their Athletic Director, as well as their Varsity Head Football Coach. Walters has been around some good company when it comes to football, as he was a QB in college at Valdosta State, and then at Samford. The one year he was at Samford, he was coached by former Auburn Head Coach Tommy Bowden, as

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success including state titles in 1983, 1999, 2000, and 2005; but also keep up the facilities in a competitive market for high school sports. ECS did their research when they decided to bring in a new field. In the end, they chose to use AstroTurf. Walters first contacted an old friend, Keith Bonnell, who was a teammate of his at Valdosta State. The fact those two had a good history led to ECS feeling comfortable with AstroTurf installing the new field. The AstroTurf company has been around since the mid-60s and installed their first turf into the Astrodome in Houston.

The field took seven weeks to install and will be available for 5 ½ days a week, 24 hours a day. The field will not only be available and used by the football team, but also the soccer, lacrosse, and various middle and high school teams there. Along with the turf being put in, the other facility upgrade include a new press box, new lighting to the baseball field, seating to the track and girls’ soccer field, and future tennis courts. Walters cannot wait for football season to start for more than one reason in the fall, “Our athletes and fans are very excited to begin enjoying the facilities; we hope our new facilities will be the best in our area.”

MemphiSport June/July 2012  

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