New turf field an antidote to Vermont’s wild weather whims


A much-anticipated turf field was finally installed during mid- to late August of this year and has certainly come in handy. “It allows our fall and spring athletes to not only work on their craft during poor weather or the winter but also helps prepare us when we play against teams who have turf fields,” said NVU Johnson Director of Athletics and Recreation Greg Eckman.

He says that the athletics department is looking forward to local youth teams using the field for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, softball and baseball.

Because of the harsh Vermont weather, turf, which is artificial grass, is a smart alternative as it stays the same despite the snowy or rainy conditions as well as being easier to clear if snow or mud were to pack on top of it.

It’s been a long time coming.

Six years ago, Johnson State College proposed major facilities upgrades to the VSCS Board of Trustees, a proposal that included installing a turf field that was part of a $14-17 million proposal that was based on projects that had been done in the past. But a year later, the Johnson State College athletic department and alumni relations were hoping to raise two million to fund the project of installing turf facilities for all sport and club programs.

The athletics department also had other ideas, such as an athletic field house and lights on the tennis field.

When former Interim President John Mills asked the NVU-Johnson athletics department as well as Lyndon’s what projects they would be interested in, they mentioned seven to eight items. Turf kept reappearing on successive wish lists.

It was, Eckman said, a wish list item that was economically feasible, unlike construction of an athletics field house, which he said would cost “around eight or nine million.” “This project was within the budget he [Mills] was intending to spend, and he funded the project for us,” saays Eckman.

Eckman also noted how excited the athletic department is by its expanded ability to provide additional intramurals, fitness and recreational opportunities for on-campus students and the local community.

The turf is removable and takes about 90 minutes to install or remove, which makes adapting the multigym relatively easy.

Katie Plant, who plays soccer during the fall, has already benefitted from this new SHAPE addition. “It helps us prepare for when we play against a team that plays on turf so we get our touches [which is the initial contact or touch between the player and the ball in soccer] in on a turf field and not on a grass field,” she said.