The battle for McCracken

The spring season sports all and want need access to the upgraded McCracken facility, but there’s only one field


Dan Boro

McCracken Field was upgraded during the summer and finished just in time for football season. But scheudling difficulties made many players and coaches worried that the football team would be the only one to enjoy the new facilities

Mackenzie Sroka, Sports Editor

As the wintery spring continues, many of the grass fields have not thawed. Typically this would track most spring sports inside, however, MCHS’s newly implemented field allows the sports to get outside and practice. The new turf field and track is an option that the sports can turn to in order to prepare for early spring games. 

Currently, girls and boys track, girls soccer, girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse and baseball are using the field. While not all of these teams will always play off of the turf field, they require access to it at the beginning of spring season. 

This time of year, the grass fields these teams often play are not ready to be in use. By having access to the turf field, they are able to get outside and prepare for their season earlier. 

“Early March, it’s gonna be tough,” explained Joel Beard, MCHS’s current athletic director. “We are already thinking those games are gonna have to be on the turf because we don’t know if their grass fields gonna be ready.”

Using the turf can help teams practice or play in poor weather conditions, but it can also help teams prepare and get used to playing on turf for the season. 

“Pretty much all of our games except for one are played on turf fields, but practicing on grass and playing on turf are completely different,” described Brad Roberston, the girls lacrosse head coach. “Just the way the ball rolls the speed, of running on grass first are a completely different game, so practicing on turf is going to be huge for us.”

Teams that do not play on the turf field, such as baseball, still need access to the field during the early spring season. They are able to then run drills that they can not run within a gym setting, while waiting for their field to be ready to play on. 

“When we set it up,” explained Brain Rockweiler, the boys varsity baseball coach, “we did some throwing and then we set up an infield so we can work on some situational type stuff, as far as if your goal is like some first and third situations. We took a ton of ground balls, a ton of fly balls. So we just get a lot of reps, probably more reps than we could have, even if we got on a baseball field at this time of the year.”

Since it is so important for all the teams to have access to the turf field, it is key that each team gets time on the field. This requires communication from our athletic department and coaches. 

“It was tough from the beginning because, like I said, you have so many different sports,” explained Andrew Stegenga, the girls varsity head coach. “So you have so many different coaches and not everybody, like we’re not all going to get what we want. And that’s what’s tough. We just needed to have that meeting probably three weeks ago and, if we had that, it would have probably lessen some of the conflict that happened. You’re gonna advocate for your program, you’re gonna want the turf, everybody’s gonna want the space and want their space and if you don’t get it, then it makes it look like you’re not advocating. I think that was tough just because everybody was trying to do what was best for their programs, which makes sense.”

Each of the team’s coaches want access to the field, which meant that it was necessary to work out a schedule for the teams to utilize the turf field, the gyms, and the grass fields, if ready. 

“I would say that there is a schedule,” described Mikaela Mitsch, the girls varsity softball team head coach, “but it was received very close to when we were starting all of our practices. Then it was misunderstood that there was going to be another schedule sent out by our athletic director, and that kind of changed everything up. Earlier communication would be helpful, and continued communication would be helpful as well.”

To create a schedule, the athletic director has had to have communication with the coaches in order to figure out each teams practice schedule, which can become a difficult process. 

“It is a long and collaborative process because we have to talk with each coach and look at game schedules,” stated Beard. “Wherever they practice in the past and what has been what’s the pattern of practice in the past.”

The athletic department hosted multiple meetings in order to create a schedule for each team to have a time to utilize the McCracken facility. 

“The meeting we had the other day for sure made it much better,” explained Stegenga. “We have a schedule and everything settled with that. I’m gonna have another meeting to set up games and things like that, but we do have to share the turf like there’s no way we can play everything out there

As the spring season progresses, track will shift from their indoor season to outdoor season. This will cause the turf field schedule to need adjustment. The schedule is an ever moving puzzle, that needs to be adjusted with constant communication occurring within the athletic department.