ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
By the time the last football season ended, Tabor College’s Reimer Field looked less like a football field and more like a 10-year-old worked over by the neighborhood bully.
But after recent major renovations, the field is close to being ready for the upcoming season, according to Tim McCarty, the Bluejays’ head football coach.
“We’re about a year away from having a Cadillac for a field,” he said. “We’ll have a good stand of grass on it this fall, hopefully.”
The Hillsboro High School football team will be the first team to test the new field in a game situation when it opens its season Aug. 31 against Sterling.
Tabor will host Colorado College the following day.
Wear and tear on the field and the combination of torrential rain last season was a major concern when the Tabor athletic staff began discussing renovations.
“Last year we probably had four or five low areas were it would actually hold three or four inches of water,” McCarty said. “With it being recrowned and releveled, the water will pull away from the game field.”
A bermuda hybrid grass developed at Kansas State University specifically for football fields was planted on the field this summer. The grass was designed to grow shorter than most fescue-grass fields, making maintenance easier. It should also help special-teams players.
“In college the ball sits on the ground for a kicker on (points after touchdown) and field goals,” McCarty said. “And if you’re kicking out of three or four inches of grass, that’s not very good.
“If we’re kicking on an inch or half-inch of grass, then we’ve got a chance of kicking the ball better.”
The combination of hot temperatures and humidity in Kansas makes bermuda grass ideal for fields in the area, according to Vince Schroeder Tabor College groundskeeper.
“It does great in the heat,” Schroeder said. “We didn’t actually plant the bermuda until May 3, which was really to early, we later found out. We re-sprigged it in June and it’s coming along.
“It heals itself and sends out runners and refills in everything that is thinned out during the football season.”
This winter, the college added a 12- to 15-inch crown to the middle of the field to combat the water problem that had plagued the field last season.
“We came in and tilled everything up so you wouldn’t have a moisture barrier there,” Schroeder said. “We hauled in all the dirt and worked that down and leveled it all out. We did that all in fall and then again in March because we got some settling over the winter.”
McCarty said the enhanced crown will be an asset to many of his players.
“If you’ve got a crown in one area and gully in another out in the middle of the field, it affects a running back’s performance, a receiver’s performance and a defensive players performance,” McCarty said.
“(The crown on the field) is going to make it better for us.”
The dirt used for the crown was donated by a local dairy farmer. Volunteers donated their time and vehicles to help haul in and dump the dirt onto the field.
“I don’t know how many volunteers gave their time and dumped their topsoil out there,” McCarty said. “Words just wouldn’t express my thanks to (Vince) and the people he got to help.
“The field definitely needed to be done. It’s going to look nice inside a stadium someday.”