If You Build It, They Will Come

Caroline Stevenson, Staff Writer

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Nearly every good athlete knows that the key to success in any game, match, or meet comes from one thing–practice. Yet, at Scituate High School, many teams have had this privilege taken from them, solely due to the lack of adequate space at the high school for teams to practice and play.

At Scituate High School, eight out of twenty-five sports teams require turf or field time for practice and games. However, there are currently only five fields available–one turf and four grass. Only a few of these fields are considered adequate by high school athletes. A combination of age and worn out conditions make it difficult for teams to get the most out of their practices.

“The turf is currently thirteen years old, close to fourteen, but turf lifespan is about ten years,” says Scituate High School Assistant Principal to Student Life William Luette, “so we’ve had issues with the turf field so far.” These issues include tears in the turf, such as a divot on the turf near the soccer penalty kick marker. In fact, there are full sections of the turf that needs to be replaced.

According to Luette, the turf field isn’t the only field on the high school campus that needs maintenance. Luette described the fields as “outdated” and “hard to maintain.” Luette said, “We don’t meet the Title IX recommendation, there are safety concerns for some of the fields, and there just needs to be a lot of work done.”

Under the 1972 federal civil rights law Title IX, there must be gender equality in all aspects of publicly funded education–including sports and after-school activities. Public schools that do not provide equity in all sports, whether they be female, male, or mixed gender teams, are in direct violation of this federal law. Along with the safety concerns that come with aging fields, Scituate High School’s athletic facilities do not comply with Title IX.

SHS field hockey and softball head coach Andrew Barlow knows all too well about the obstacles posed by the current athletic facilities. Currently, the girls’ softball team home field is located nearly one mile off campus at Central Field. Barlow said this does not deter him or his teams from having an optimistic outlook on the situation. “We have to use what we have,” he said, “having a field at school would be convenient, but again we make it work.” Nevertheless, Barlow does believe that keeping all of the athletic programs at the high school would be helpful to athletes and “alleviate the stress of trying to get to practice off campus.”

Although the high school sports teams are dealing with these unfortunate circumstances, the Town of Scituate recreation programs is also feeling the effects. Scituate Recreation Director Maura Glancy said these fields have caused challenges in the past, primarily due to inclement weather. “Most of the youth groups understand playing on a wet field is not good for the field and all have come to respect this,” said Glancy. “If one field fails, it’s like a domino effect–the group using the field will have to move to another field–it does get crazy when that happens,” she admitted. Similar to Coach Barlow, Glancy said cooperation is needed when situations such as these do present themselves. She said, “Everyone works together to solve the lack of fields in Scituate.”

For both athletes and coaches throughout the town, an important question remains: What’s next? According to both Glancy and Luette, back in April of 2018, the town voted to allocate $418,000 to hire a company to study and redesign the high school campus fields. A future town vote will determine if Scituate voters will allocate a larger sum of money toward “restoring” these fields, as Luette put it.

Currently, Scituate is stuck at several crossroads of issues, concerning the brown water upset within the town, the future plans for the senior center, and now the high school campus fields. But, from the obstacles these fields have presented for several teams in the past, both affiliated with the high school and not, the problem only becomes increasingly imperative to address with each passing day.  

Responding to the increasing pressure for SHS to comply with Title IX legislation,

many fear the threat it poses to these student-athletes, as well as the inconveniences it presents for the team as a whole.

 

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If You Build It, They Will Come