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Westview and Southridge cut the grass

Westview and Southridge will both sport new turf fields for the fall season
by: MILES VANCE, UNDER WAY — The Westview High School stadium field is undergoing a transformation from grass to artificial turf that is scheduled for completion before the start of the coming fall sports season.

It's been a long time coming, and there's still a long way to go, but this much is certain - at some point in the fall of 2006, the athletic teams at both Westview and Southridge high schools will hit the turf.

Work is currently underway at both schools on installation of new, artificial turf surfaces at their respective stadium fields, and both are scheduled for completion on Sept. 1, the first day of competition in the 2006 fall sports season.

The two concurrent projects, with site preparation work being completed by Bernhardt Golf and field installation being handled by FieldTurf, are expected to cost around $1.8 million, with Southridge and Westview fundraising approximately $150,000 of the total and the rest coming from the Beaverton School District.

'It's just the greatest gift any high school athletic program could get,' said Westview Athletic Director Mike Sanderson. 'It's really good for everybody.'

In addition, it brings Southridge and Westview into line with the other high schools in the Metro League, all of which feature artificial turf surfaces on their stadium fields (sometimes also known as multi-use fields).

'We were a dinosaur in still having a grass field,' said Southridge Athletic Director Bryan Sorenson. 'And we only used it as a game field, but by the end

of the year, it was always trashed.'

While there's still nearly two months of work left to be done at the two schools, the days of slipping and sloshing through muddy turf during football and soccer games is nearly over for the Wildcat and Skyhawk athletes.

Needless to say, the soccer and football coaches at the two schools won't miss those days.

'When you have to move home playoff games, you know it's time,' said Westview football coach Jon Evans. 'We've been trying to get it for three years but something always came up.'

'I'm pretty excited about it,' added Southridge girls soccer coach Jeff Lim. 'It will be pretty nice to play a home playoff game.'

Jesuit, a private school in the Metro League, was the first of the Beaverton-area Class 4A high schools to add turf, going artificial way back in 1999. Beaverton High School followed suit in 2002, followed by Aloha in 2004 and Sunset last year.

Now, thanks in great part to the strong support of the Beaverton School District and Superintendent Jerry Colonna, it is finally Southridge and Westview's turns. The Beaverton School District initially allocated $250,000 to each school over the past three years, then agreed in 2006 to pick up the rest of the total not covered by each school's in-house fund-raising efforts.

According to Beaverton School District Facilities Manager Jerry Green, by the time of completion, each project is expected to cost around $900,000, including ground base work, application of the artificial turf surface and all engineering and project management costs.

'For us, the football team and the boys and girls soccer teams all went deep into the playoffs and we had to use five different sites for playoffs because our home field was unplayable,' Sorenson said. 'The district saw that and said 'We have to act now.''

Sanderson, athletic director at Westview since its opening in 1994, was especially thankful for the leadership and support of Colonna and former Beaverton School Board chairman Mike Osborne, who died unexpectedly in May.

'It's just so sad that Mike Osborne won't be around to see it,' Sanderson said. 'It was his leadership, combined with Jerry Colonna, that made this happen.

'I just can't thank the district enough for the decision they made in supporting athletics,' Sorenson said. 'It's been great having Jerry Colonna and his support through this process.'

In addition to keeping the occasional playoff game at home late in the season, though, there are a ton of other perhaps not-so-obvious benefits to the construction.

Among them:

n The Westview soccer teams will bring their home games back to campus for the first time in 11 years - Wildcat soccer teams have played all their home games at Tualatin Hills since their school's second year. 'Bringing all the varsity games back on campus will be great,' Sanderson said. 'And we'll probably be able to get quite a few of the JV games on there as well.'

n Soccer and football teams at both schools will have, at least occasionally if not daily, chances to practice on their home fields, thereby increasing their chances for success at game time.

n Youth football and soccer programs located within each school's boundaries will gain access to the new fields in hours not previously allocated to high school programs.

n Other beneficiaries from the new surfaces will be the marching bands, the lacrosse teams and the physical education programs at each school.

'It helps our PE Programs, our youth programs, the whole community,' Sorenson said. 'And it makes our PE classes seem that much more like a class act too.'

Now, it's just a matter of everything getting completed on time. Things are on schedule so far, though Southridge suffered an early setback when problems with its fields drainage system yielded a few 'soft spots' and cost a couple weeks to solve.

'September 1 is the completion and it's also our first home (football) game,' Sorenson said. 'Once the FieldTurf guys come in, I just hope there aren't any hang-ups.'

'We actually expected to have a few problems by now. We knew there was an underground stream from when this was a farmer's field,' Sanderson said. 'We just knew we'd have problems, but so far we haven't. It looks like we dodged a bullet.'