Prior to the start of L.C. Bird High School’s season-opening football game against James River Thursday evening, Chesterfield school and county officials participated in a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Skyhawks’ new synthetic turf field.
L.C. Bird is one of two Chesterfield high schools to have their grass playing surface replaced by turf this year. A similar ceremony will take place prior to Monacan High’s home opener Sept. 15 against Cosby.
“Walking on the field, you can feel the excitement of the students who will be playing tonight,” said Dr. Merv Daugherty, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS), who coached football for 14 years in Maryland before moving into school administration. “This project happened because of the county government and school system working together to make sure we have the best athletic facilities in the state.”
The Board of Supervisors approved $2 million in local funding for each turf field conversion, including improvements to drainage and accessibility. Chesterfield Parks and Recreation managed the projects in coordination with CCPS staff.
The new Sprinturf Ultrablade fields can be used year-round, eliminating downtime for grass growth, while significantly reducing the likelihood of having to postpone events because of inclement weather.
“The first students to take the field will be our football team, but many other students will benefit from this field improvement -- including our marching band, color guard, cheerleaders, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, track and field, and every day our health and PE classes will be on this field,” said Adrienne Blanton, principal at L.C. Bird.
Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland noted that Bird’s new field is both a school and community asset; when the school isn’t using it, such as weekends and school breaks, it will be available to local organizations affiliated with the Parks and Recreation department.
“We are continuing to make investments in our schools and school facilities, but in our people as well,” he said. “This field will allow for more use and that will be more cost-effective in the long run.”
Kathryn Haines, vice chair of the School Board, called the new turf field "a strong foundation for student success.”
“As parents, we want to provide for our children the best we can. On a larger scale, that is what we want to do as a school system and as a county – provide our students everything they need to grow as successful members of our community,” she said.
“We know it’s important to provide students with ways to connect with each other so they feel supported and engaged, both in and out of the classroom,” Haines added. “The athletic teams and marching band that will practice and play on this beautiful field will make some of the strongest connections that students make during high school.”
The turf fields are intended to serve school and community activities for the next eight to 10 years. In the future, Chesterfield’s other high school fields will also be evaluated for conversion from grass to turf.
Oh, by the way, L.C. Bird won 45-12 in the first game on its new Dutchman Field, named for the late Glen “Dutch” Schrotenboer, who started the school’s football program and won 84 games in 10 seasons as its varsity head coach.