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THS soccer players stand on the faded and worn surface after their final game of the 2023 season.
Photo by Kyle Thornton

Rest period slated for stadium field in June

By Michael Butler

The green grass of the "playing field" at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium gets its fair share of play and so much more. The stadium is used not just for football but also soccer and is trod upon for many other public and school events - like last week's high school graduation.

There is a lifespan for the O'Brien Stadium sod and over the years it has been replaced and resodded when necessary. In June, the field will have an "off period" and some patchwork could be implemented in preparation for high school football season which begins in August.

"It does not have much time to rest during the school year," said Dr. Brock Nolin, superintendent of Tallassee City Schools. "With our three soccer teams, it gets chewed up. It's no fault of theirs. The field is designed for heavy play. At some point it's (time) to let the Bermuda sod rejuvenate, dethatch and fertilize."

Nolin said that he and THS head football coach and athletic director Mike Battles decided to close the field to allow a span for regrowth.

"It's a rejuvination period for June," said Nolin. "The band uses it. It's a public use facility."

Extensive use on high school playing fields, has led some schools to an artificial turf option that does not require the regular need for maintenance.

"The last number I heard on that years ago was $700,000," said Nolin. "I have no clue what it would be nowadays. It would be nice."

Nolin added that there is still a lifespan on the turf too.

"I think of it like an electric car. You don't have to buy gas. But, in a few years those batteries go dead. I know Pike Road bought theirs as a second-hand turf. We do have some turf in our hitting barn that we bought second hand. It's just that you have to cut a lot of grass to justify that."

1984 pic of THS coach Steve McCord on the O'Brien playing surface prior to resodding