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|OCS Eagles eye artificial turf|
As three Ouachita Parish public high schools are in the process of installing new field turf to their football – soccer stadiums, one private school hopes to raise enough money to build their own field of dreams.
OCS's Eagle Stadium is one of the most used playing surfaces in the parish. Eagle Stadium is home to the football teams of the high school, junior high and elementary school. Additionally, the field is used throughout winter months for various levels of boys' and girls' soccer competition.
Compounding the strain on the Eagle Stadium turf, the temperamental climate in northeast Louisiana means many games are played in less-than-desirable conditions. Just last season, back-to-back boys' and girls' soccer championships saw the field transformed into a muddy, mangled mess.
Several area public schools have already rectified the annual problem by replacing grass fields with high-end, low-maintenance artificial turf. The fields cost in excess of $600,000 but save money for schools in the long run through lower operating costs. After construction is completed at Ouachita Parish, Richwood and Sterlington High Schools, all five Ouachita Parish high schools will have artificial turf courtesy of the tax payers who voted to fund the projects.
However, OCS is a private school. That means it will have to pay to upgrade to artificial turf out of pocket, by way of donations from parents, alumni and local business donors. Currently, OCS has raised $130,000 of the $600,000 needed to begin construction to install the new artificial surface.
"On a yearly average, we have close to 200 football players, 50 soccer players, and over 50 cheerleaders and eagle line from grades K-12 that utilize our field," said OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh. "With over 300 student athletes, our students will directly benefit from a turf field but there will also be benefits for the entire school."
Down in Lafayette, Teurlings Catholic is putting its finishing touches on a 3-year capital campaign to build a home stadium. Teurlings Catholic installed its artificial surface three years ago and Coach Sonny Charpentier is pleased with the results.
"It really does save you time and money," Charpentier said. "It is just like technology, the surfaces just get better and better throughout time."
The Teurlings Catholic Rebels are a Class 4A powerhouse in football and, just like OCS, depends on its elementary schools system to bring in the next crop of athletes.
What this means is the field is used for high school, junior high and youth football and soccer games throughout the year.
When it rains throughout the year, football practices are often forced to move indoors to the gym, which is shared with basketball, cheerleading and dance line teams. Often youth and junior high games are postponed, relocated or even canceled based on the condition of the field.
Graphic courtesy of OCS
Caption: BUILDING A FIELD OF DREAMS - Ouachita Christian is currently in the process of raising funds to purchase artificial turf for Eagles Stadium. (ABOVE) is the rendering of the field once complete will be permentaly lined for football and soccer with painted endzones and the OCS Eagle logo at midfield.
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