It will be another season wasted.
I have been an athlete at the high school for three years, and come fall, it will be my last field hockey season. Unfortunately, I will never get to play on a Shaker turf field because the board has delayed any construction until “further studies” are completed.
Now, our team will struggle through another season of humiliation. We play teams who have turf fields, and the only advantage we hold is that they find it tough playing through the cat litter and sand the maintenance crews spread on our mud pits but which do nothing to improve conditions. I guess our opponents’ momentum slows when we have to stop mid-game so our coach can help the referees rake the sand. Following one of our games in fall 2010, our opponent’s coach blamed their loss on our field.
It’s an embarrassment.
Let’s face it: sports are a major part of a community, and sometimes even the deciding factor in where people send their children to school. Because of our horrible fields, Shaker’s reputation is declining. Our field hockey team was two goals away from states this year. We are not a team that should be looked down upon because of our field.
Likewise, our school is joining the Northeast Ohio Conference next fall. How will we be taken seriously when our fields are unplayable and pose serious safety hazards?
I understand it’s a big project, and the board doesn’t want to rush into things. But my biggest concern is that the procrastination of this project hints that it may never happen. Parents, residents, athletes and coaches have gotten involved in this issue, working hard toward any solution to improve our athletic facilities. And really, the only solution is a turf field.
After attending the City Hall meeting Oct. 24, I knew not to get my hopes up. City Hall wasn’t completely convinced, however the board of education seemed to be seriously considering the construction of an artificial turf field. But at their March 13 meeting, they backed out last minute, pulling the vote from the published meeting agenda as soon as the meeting started.
If the board doesn’t want the image of Shaker to diminish, they will take action on this issue, which has been nagging our community for years.
At this point, all I ask for is that playable fields are provided for our teams come fall.
Lee Weingart, a member of the district-organized committee on facilities and fields, stated in an email to Shaker residents, “The Board needs to put this project back on the fast track so our children are playing on the fields they deserve this fall.”
It’s the least the board can do.
A version of this article appeared in print on 20 March 2012, on page 14 of The Shakerite.