To turf or not to turf; a coach’s opinion


Lindsey Tolliver

Patterson Mill's grass stadium field. Patterson Mill has been around for only 11 years and is the only school in the county without a turf field.


Turf fields cost anywhere from $800,000-$1,000,000, this makes it a struggle for many schools to get a turf field, while trying to stay in budget. Every school in Harford County has a turf field, except Patterson Mill. Patterson Mill is currently set to get one in 2019. There are many advantages and disadvantages to having to turf field. These types of fields can give athletes turf burns and cause joint problems due to its hard and flat surface. However, there are many positive aspects of having one, for example there is less maintenance to keep the field in good condition and a more uniform terrain. Many coaches have different opinions on these fields, and if they are necessary for our school.

Turf fields are more beneficial for some sports than others. “Turf laid with a flatter surface is more for soccer and field hockey,” says varsity football’s head coach, Steven Lurz. Coach Lurz prefers a grass field for football. He feels the, “turf field is rougher on your joints.” Turf does make it easier for football players to be able to cut, but in the long run it can cause players bodies to ache. The hard surface causes tension on muscles which can lead to injuries. With football the grass field is often torn up, because of players constantly cutting. This costs even more money to repair the damaged field. Grass is supposed to be a soft surface that helps with the hard falls from football. However, during the football season it is cold and this makes it hard for the grass to grow. The grass ends of being hard and brittle, which does not help when a football player takes a hard hit. According to The Inquirer, the article “Grass vs. Turf: Does it affect the injury rate,” states that in “2010 a study on collegiate football injuries showed that Field Turf may actually be safer than natural grass for injuries in general.”

A coach all in favor of a new turf field was,  Shannon Swinscoe, the varsity field hockey coach. She explains that it is a, “more consistent surface for athletes.” Field hockey is a fast paced sport that requires an even surface to play on. In order for the players to be able to perform at their top level, they need a flat surface that can stay flat. A big disadvantage to having grass fields is not being able to practice on a turf. This makes, “players not used to the fast pace of the game,” Coach Swinscoe explains. Most games are played on turf fields. A grass field makes it harder for players to hit the ball, due to the patches in the grass. It makes it harder to hit the ball faster.

Girl’s varsity soccer coach, Michael Parker says, “I would prefer a grass field, but I know that having a turf field would benefit the teams at Patterson Mill.” Coach Parker feels a grass field helps soccer players more than a turf field, due to the injuries turf fields can cause. Another big reason he believes Patterson Mill is in need of a turf field is because, “The speed of the game is completely different.” Grass fields don’t stand up to the spikey cleats soccer players wear. This tears up the grass even more because of the field being uneven. This leads to broken ankles and other injuries. A big disadvantage to having a grass field is how it is majorly affected by the weather. “I think it would be great to have a nice playing surface for all games and not have the weather impact the playing field,” explains Wesley Rich, the boys’ soccer coach here at Patterson Mill. Coach Rich also talked about the big disadvantage to not being used to the pace of the game, but he also talked about the advantages it gives our teams. He states that, “teams coming to play on our field gives us an advantage,” because they are not used to the rough surface.

Lacrosse is also a big sport that could benefit from a turf field. Varsity girl’s lacrosse coach Kimberly Burgasser says, “we should have a turf field, we are the only school in the county that doesn’t.” A turf field makes it easier to get ground balls, because of it’s flat surface. This makes the speed of the game much faster. Players can move the ball faster and increase their shot speed if they want to use a bounce shot. It also decreases the amount of injuries, for example sprained ankles.

It’s hard to believe Patterson Mill is only 11 years old and does not have a turf field. Overall, some coaches want a turf field and some don’t. However, all coaches feel a turf field will be easier to maintain, less injuries, and more beneficial for our school. Grass fields give our teams a disadvantage in playoffs and having a turf field would change that.