Summer is still in its early stages, but things are abuzz at the Brandon Valley High School athletic complex.
Players, coaches, footballs and soccer balls have given way to construction crews that fill the facility each day as they scurry to transform the stadium.
The lush, natural grass that has graced the soccer and football field at the home of the Lynx has been removed, and the field contains a pile of dirt and construction equipment at the moment.
Brandon Valley is joining the trend of switching to artificial turf, and by the time athletic events begin in August, the Lynx will be competing on a bright, new synthetic surface. The decision to change to the artificial turf is two-fold, according to school superintendent Jarod Larson.
Larson says usability for the many practices throughout the week, along with answering the space issue the high school is faced with on a daily basis, are the two main reasons for the change.
“In the past when we had natural turf, realistically it was utilized maybe once per week,” Larson said. “Now the usability for that space will increase to daily or multiple times per day. We’ll be able to host activities on it, all the way from football to soccer to marching band.”
The football and soccer teams currently practice daily during the school year on the practice fields adjacent to the actual playing surface. Practicing every day on the natural grass field at the stadium eventually would damage the playing surface, making it nearly unusable by midseason.
Those practice areas can now be looked at for future expansion of the high school, according to Larson. Teams will be able to practice on the artificial turf every day without damaging the surface.
“We’re working our best to manage our landlocked high school,” Larson said. “There will be the need for future building space, expansion and additional parking spaces.”
The cost of the new surface is just south of a million dollars. For $983,470 - the winning bid from Mid-American Golf and Landscape out of Lees Summit, Mo. - the entire project will be completed by the time school starts this fall. The project is being funded by the school district’s capital outlay fund.
“In previous years, the district had a facility review committee that evaluated facility needs throughout the district. One of the items they noted was stadium improvements and upgrades, which included new lighting, bleachers, concession stands and restrooms, and then ultimately a move to synthetic turf,” Larson said. “So it’s been in the works and been on the discussion board for a variety of years.”
The natural grass field at Brandon Valley was widely recognized as one of the top fields in the state. During the mid 1990s, the University of Sioux Falls played all of its home games at BVHS before the new Bob Young Stadium was built on Sioux Falls’ south side, the current home for the Cougars.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Larson said. “I will say this, there was certainly a sense of pride surrounding our natural grass field. There was a tremendous amount of pride within our maintenance department and community about the quality of the natural grass that we had at our outdoor activity complex. But there’s also certainly a pride in updating the stadium and doing a project in an innovative way.”
Artificial turf has an entirely different feel. Athletes are quicker on the turf and are able to make decisive cuts during a game that are much more difficult on natural grass.
One person who no doubt would have taken advantage of the new turf is All-State running back Braiden Peterson. Peterson graduated from Brandon Valley this year but ran all over Sioux Falls O’Gorman’s artificial turf last season. He finished with five touchdowns and a school-record 34One person who no doubt would have taken advantage of the new turf is All-State running back Braiden Peterson. Peterson graduated from Brandon Valley this year but ran all over Sioux Falls O’Gorman’s artificial turf last season. He finished with five touchdowns and a school-record 340 yards against the Knights on the bright green surface at 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue in Sioux Falls.
But even Peterson said he’s sad to see the old grass go by the way of the new surface.
“The grass was so nice and soft. It hurts a lot more when you fall on turf,” Peterson said. “I’ve driven by and looked at it, and it’s kind of sad seeing the grass all torn up and the field is gone. But it’s going to be a lot better for the teams to practice.”