By DOUG GORMAN
One of the biggest sports stories of 2018 in Coweta County had nothing to do with wins or losses, but over time could go along way in determining the success of how the three public schools sports teams fare.
Thanks to a $5.3-million dollar face left, all three public Coweta County high schools—East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate now play on artificial turf field.
The project follows the trend around the country as many school move from natural grass to turf in order to handle a wide variety of sports that use the stadiums throughout the school year.
New track surfaces were also included the in the stadium renovation.
It was something many say was much needed.
After high school football games, which included varsity, junior varsity and often middle school contests, the grass fields were often torn up by the time boys and girls soccer and lacrosse teams tried to play on them in the spring.
The Northgate girls soccer team was impacted by poor field conditions last spring when two home playoff games turned into road games for the Lady Vikings when they played at Allatoona and Pope because of poor field conditions at Henry Seldon Field.
“Our poor girls soccer team had to go on the road. They gave up two home games,” said Northgate head football coach Mike McDonald. “I hate that. It shouldn’t be like that. They couldn’t even play on it.”
Newnan head football coach Chip Walker said turf fields just make sense.
“Something that folks don’t realize about natural grass that would have taken place when you have success, is grass doesn’t repair itself in November and December,” Newnan head football coach Chip Walker said. “So when soccer rolls back out there, it’s all tore up. You do that for four or five years in a row, you’re in really bad shape and it’s really expensive to maintain it.”
East Coweta High’s Garland Shoemake Stadium hosted 19 games including middle school soccer playoffs from August-December and then another 55 this spring including Friday’s football scrimmage game.
‘Newnan’s Drake Stadium got a break with 11 games in the fall, but had 47 in the spring in addition to hosting the Special Olympics.
“It’s going to be huge. I think the county made the absolute best decision they could have in doing this for all the schools because it’ll be a win-win for everybody,” Small said. “Every single sport, male and female, and we’re not going to have a lot of the issues that we’ve had. It’s awesome. We’re really excited and appreciative of the county for doing this for us.”
In the long run the new turf fields should play for themselves.
“Let me tell you the biggest thing with having that turf is it’s going to improve practice time. You won’t lose practice time for the weather, you won’t have to worry about injuries as much. It will be optimal conditions every day at practice. I think that will help us in the long run. It’ll also help things look pretty on Friday night,” Walker said. “Spring sports won’t have to worry about a hole out there or something being tore up. It’s an opportunity for them to have a good place to play games.”
In addition to jumping up to the GHSA, Trinity also began the season playing on artificial turf.