HEAD OF SCHOOL Mike Cooper and coaches and students celebrate the groundbreaking of Brewster's new turf field on July 30. Left to right, Mike Cooper, Matt Butcher, Danielle Tidd '13, Matt Lawlor, Brady Palmer '12, Barb Thomas, Ryder Garnsey '14, Karl Edmonds, Reid Randall '14, Bill Lee, Juliet Hadley '15, Olivia Hadley '12, Janis Cornwell, Kim Yau, Laura Cooper, Melissa Lawlor, Fred Garnsey and Kate Turner. Phil Stiles - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
August 06, 2012WOLFEBORO — Brewster Academy is known for its top-of-the-line athletic facilities.
The Smith Center features the only indoor convertible turf surface among independent schools, allowing outdoor teams to practice inside on a surface much like they would be on outside.
And while the Smith Center offers Brewster students many options, one thing that the Bobcat athletic teams did not have at their immediate disposal is a turf field.
That's all about to change.
Donors have contributed more than one million dollars to help Brewster build a new turf field, which will take the place of the current Brown Field, located between the school's academic building and the Pinckney Boathouse.
"It's a huge addition to our facility and our overall campus," Athletic Director Matt Lawlor stated. "It's almost a necessity these days, especially in northern New England.
The addition of the turf field will allow athletes the opportunity to get outside earlier than ever in the spring sports, something that most schools in the Lakes Region deal with on a regular basis each spring.
At Brewster, the spring sports season starts in the last week of February, which means there is almost always plenty of snow still on the ground. A turf field will allow for spring athletes to get their feet on an outdoor facility much earlier than normal.
"It maximizes the instruction time for coaches and it maximizes the playing time for players," Lawlor said.
The field, which will be much like the field surface on Kingswood's Alumni Field, will be used for field hockey and soccer in the fall months and lacrosse in the spring months. It is being manufactured by FieldTurf, the same company that produced the surface at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
"With the Smith Center and the turf field, we've established ourselves as an elite athletic facility," Lawlor said. "It's going to help for recruiting and also prepare college-bound athletes for the next level."
Lawlor pointed out that one in four Brewster athletes moves on to play sports at the collegiate level and almost all of the collegiate level sports are played on synthetic fields, meaning Brewster athletes often had a disadvantage going into the collegiate ranks having only played minimal games on turf.
"That's what you'll be playing on," Lawlor said of the turf fields in college.
While a groundbreaking ceremony for the new field was held on Monday, July 30, Lawlor expected the first trucks to be making their way into the Brewster campus on Monday, Aug. 6, and he is optimistic that the project will be completed by Nov. 1.
"We hope to have it complete by Oct. 26," he said. "But we have to get it done by Nov. 1."
While the construction is going on, the Brewster field hockey team will be displaced, as Brown Field was the spot where the stick girls played their home games.
This season, the Bobcats will be playing field hockey at The Nick and Lawlor was quick to thank Holly Williams and The Nick for the use of their fields.
"Holly's been great to work with," Lawlor said. "We're happy to have such a good relationship with The Nick."
The soccer teams will continue to use their regular home fields during the upcoming fall season.
While the turf field is finally becoming a reality, Lawlor notes it has been a long time in the works and numerous plans have been presented.
Lawlor praised Head of School Michael Cooper for really getting the ball rolling and pushing the project forward.
"We are very fortunate to have a Head of School who is dedicated to the needs of the athletic program and the student body," Lawlor stated. "And our development office led the charge to raise the $1.1 million."
He also pointed to the many donors who made the project a reality.
"I tip my hat to the parents and donors for what they did," Lawlor said. "Their contribution is immeasurable to the athletic program and the school community.
"There are dedicated parents all over the world who are making this happen," he continued.
Brewster coaches expressed excitement over the possibilities as well.
"Turf is the way forward and in fact, necessary for Brewster to sustain a competitive edge, given the majority of opponents maximize this surface to gain advantage in the New England Prep School Athletic Council," field hockey coach Kim Yau stated. "Turf is vital to our continued success."
"It will be kind of exciting," said boys' lacrosse coach Bill Lee. "Up in northern New England, turf is huge, for spring sports especially.
"It's going to be extremely helpful," he added.
Lee noted that while lacrosse on turf isn't terribly different than lacrosse on grass, he pointed out that the field hockey and soccer team would certainly notice a major difference.
"It's going to keep us competitive with the other schools," Lee said. "And it's a nice showcase area for our campus."
Part of the draw of the turf for Lee is the ability to get his team outside earlier in the spring, keeping the squad from working inside or on parking lots or wherever they can find room.
"Our practice time has gone up in the spring time because of the turf," he said. "You're always a magician trying to figure out what to do to create good practice time in the spring with no access to the field."
He also noted that it would make Lawlor's scheduling much easier, as teams won't have to be bussed to Kingswood or The Nick or to other locations for practice.
"We won't have to juggle as much," Lee said.
Over the last few years, the Brewster teams have made use of Alumni Field on the new Kingswood campus as a spot to play on turf, particularly when unfavorable weather leads to tough field conditions on Brewster's lakeside fields. Lawlor noted that Kingswood Athletic Director Andrea Ogden has been incredibly helpful in allowing the Bobcats use of the facility when it is available.
"Over the last few years, we've been grateful to have Kingswood in our backyard," Lawlor said. "Andrea and her staff were always more than willing to help us out.
"We're very fortunate to have that relationship with Kingswood," he added.
Lawlor also noted that Rob Houseman helped the school work through many of the steps in bringing the project to fruition and that Gale Associates, the same company that did construction at The Nick, will be doing the construction of the turf field.
Lawlor was hopeful that the new field will provide yet another place for athletes to show off their skills on the Brewster campus.
"We made a lot of memories on Brown Field, but hopefully we'll make memories and have some great accomplishments on the new field," he said. "The coaches are excited, the students are pumped. The whole facility, it's coming full circle."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126