Tolland High School turf field opens
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Mon., Sep. 23, 2013
Tolland High School athletic teams now have an all-weather turf field on which to play games and practice. In a ceremony on Sept. 20, Town Manager Steven Werbner, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, state Sen. Tony Guglielmo (R-35), and former state Rep. Bryan Hurlburt were among state and town officials who cut a ribbon to mark the opening of the $1 million field.
The turf field and lighting system was funded with $700,000 in state grants, and $300,000 in bonding.
Werbner thanked town and state officials for their hard work in helping him find the funding and town staff for doing the work to prepare the grants and to prepare the landscape around the field.
“It’s the citizens of Tolland that made this happen,” Wyman said, adding that Guglielmo and Hurlburt helped move the funding through the state legislature.
Wyman was presented with a customized Tolland Eagles jersey, which read “Lt. Governor,” and then assisted with the coin toss to start the Eagles’ football game vs. Rocky Hill.
The installation of the field was done by BSC Group and Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare.
Youth sports organizations will also be able to use the field, which is available to be rented by private groups and organizations through the recreation department.
THS boys’ soccer coach Jim Leahy was recognized for his behind the scenes support of the project. “I had some vision,” Leahy said. “Field conditions have been tough here since the school opened. I knew that there was state money available, and that if we could put some money together with some private groups, we’d have the resources to do something like this.”
State funding came from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program and the state’s Capitol Bonding Program. For the $300,000 in local bonding, local sports groups, including soccer, football and lacrosse groups, are expected to raise much of that costs. The town will also generate some funding through rentals and advertising.
Rocky Hill put a damper on Tolland’s christening of the new field, beating the Eagles 41-7. Coach Andy Bourquin said the field was great, but that Rocky Hill is simply a very good team this year.
“We got beat up front,” he said. “They aren’t a particularly big team, but they are quick. They’re tough. They don’t give you anything, they make you earn it, and we didn’t earn it tonight.”
Bourquin said the atmosphere at the game was the best he’s seen. “This is great,” he said. “There’s a big crowd, and I wish we gave them a better game. This is a good thing for us. This is a great facility.”
Leahy said the field is safer than the previous natural grass field, and that he is looking forward to seeing his soccer team play on it. “You can move the ball around better,” he said.
THS lacrosse coach Victor Hurtuk said the new field will make lacrosse faster. “We’ve been talking it up already,” Hurtuk said, adding that high school and youth clubs can’t wait for spring, to start using the turf.
“We had a couple of [away] games on turf last year,” Hurtuk said, adding that at least one game at Tolland was moved because of weather, to the other team’s turf field.
“It’s consistent,” he said. “We won’t have to cancel any games because of weather, unless there is lightning.”
The field also offers more flexibility, as all sports can use the field later into the evenings.
“This will be a great place for kids to play for generations,” Leahy said.