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RICHARD MALACARNE: Artificial turf shouldn't be political football

on April 29, 2013 11:00 AM

Well, it must be school board election season again. I know because it’s the only time that you hear any acrimony about the beautiful, multipurpose artificial turf field at Indiana Area Senior High School.

In a recent letter featured on this page, I read that anyone connected to this original project should be automatically rejected as a possible school board candidate. That is absolutely ludicrous! Andy Kuzneski Field at Fifth Street Stadium is probably the best addition to that campus in the past 50 years. To those who would doubt this, may I suggest that they go over and see how it’s being used.

Had there been a “rug” instead of grass when I served as athletic director in the 1980s and early ’90s, we could have avoided many ugly and unsafe incidents. Just one of those was when, after two weeks of rain and cold temperatures, we prepared the field for Homecoming by painting the end zones, yard markers, lines and 50-yard line logo at mid-week. It did not dry properly and after Friday night’s football game both Altoona and Indiana players were covered with red paint. Later the next week we got a bill from the Altoona School District for a new set of football pants because their white pants were permanently pink. We had to purchase a new set for our team, too. I have other stories that are too long for this letter.

Preparation for a Friday night football game began on Wednesday. Mowing, painting and primping occupied three or four maintenance workers. Today football (varsity, JV, ninth-grade, eighth-grade and seventh-grade teams), soccer (boys and girls), lacrosse (boys and girls), the band and all physical education (gym) classes use the field during a typical fall week.

Even baseball and softball use it sometimes in the spring. No real serious maintenance is required and the athletic director doesn’t have to referee battles for field use time between coaches and the band director.

The artificial turf field on the campus of Indiana High School should not be a political issue in this or any other election. It is there. It makes perfect sense. It saves time and money in the long run. It is beautiful and something that we should be proud of! I hope all the newly elected school board members are as imaginative and forward thinking as those who installed the artificial turf at Fifth Street Stadium.

Richard C. Malacarne

former IHS teacher and athletic director

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