Dazzling New Field Being Installed for LCHS Teams

Ryan Zerbel caught his players peeking at their new football field as it was being installed last week. The second-year Spartans coach could tell they liked what they saw: the beginning of a striking, dual-tone surface similar to the field on which college football power Oregon plays its home games.
“You could hear the excitement in their voices,” Zerbel said. “And from our position as a football program trying to have a resurgence and build the program and have consistency, to have a top-notch facility really helps draw kids to the program.
“And football is a unique game. It really brings out the best in a community.”
Plenty of community user groups will be making the most of the field, which is being replaced this summer, and the track resurfaced, as part of a $1.5-million capital improvement project that is slated to be finished by late-July.
The school’s soccer programs also will play on it, physical education classes will use it, and club soccer and youth football teams will run and jump and tackle there. Graduates will walk across it.
The old field, which was also heavily trafficked, was installed in 2003. Its surface and the padding underneath were worn, unattractive and potentially unsafe.
After repainting the campus last summer, the La Cañada Unified School District decided it was time to focus on replacing the aging field.
A Field Replacement Committee began meeting in December. After carefully considering a menu of material options, it ordered AstroTurf GameDay Grass, with an infill of ZeoFill and Silica Sand over a 1-inch Brock PowerBase pad. The track, they decided, would be resurfaced but not replaced.
Last week, workers laid down the padding, a styrofoam-esque product intended to reduce the impact on contact (and to last 25 years).
The ZeoFill to be spread between the padding and the turf will be an improvement over the crumb rubber formerly in place, LCUSD Chief Business and Operations Manager Mark Evans said.
“We had three options: crumb rubber, ZeoFill and coconut,” Evans said. “We weighed all the options, the health concerns, also watering requirements and coolness, and this met most of our expectations better than the other two.”
An organic mineral substance similar to sand or extremely fine decomposed granite, the ZeoFill will be cooler, will be easier to maintain, will hold water like real grass, and will stay in place beneath the thatched turf rather than trailing users into their cars and homes like an unwanted souvenir. Also, unlike crumb rubber, it isn’t the subject of worrisome if unproven concerns linking it to cancer.
“It’s the best product on the market — safety-wise, warranty-wise, product-wise, durability-wise, longevity-wise,” said Dave DiGeronimo, AstroTurf product manager, who said the substance is catching on quickly across the nation.
The turf — alternating lime and dark greens — will feature cardinal-and-gold details, including an “LC” logo at midfield, plus end zone lettering of “LA CAÑADA” and “SPARTANS” in the respective end zones.
The surrounding track not only is getting resurfaced, it’s getting distinctive gold relay zones. “They were able to provide that for us in-budget, so we thought, ‘Let’s go for it,’” said Evans, who, though he didn’t want to jinx it, added that it wouldn’t surprise him if the project came in under budget by as much $200,000.
For his part, DiGeronimo seemed almost as excited as Zerbel’s players about the project, promising, “This project is going to be gorgeous when it’s done. It’s going to look beautiful.”
He said that there are only two other fields in the United States employing the same combination of material and aesthetic that LCHS is — but that there soon will be four because he shared plans for the Spartans’ field with school officials at a district in Kentucky who then ordered the same thing.
“As a football coach, it’s kind of like waiting for Christmas,” said Zerbel, whose team — which next season will take the new field in new uniforms — is using the grass outfield of the adjacent baseball field to work on plays and timing during summer workouts.
“Honestly, though, when you’re doing a project of this magnitude, you want to make sure that you really take your time and cover all your bases,” Zerbel said. “And it’s going to look amazing. It’s really, really going to be nice.”

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