East Central Community College unveiled a portion of its new FieldTurf Thursday set to be on full display for the upcoming 2014 campaign in the Warrior’s Bailey Stadium Thursday.
Three weeks ago, ground was struck to get the process under way as the project will reach its completion in the coming weeks.
"The FieldTurf is called EnviroPro," said EnviroTurf Chief Executive James Bateman, whose company also installed Meridian High School's field turf. "We've installed a water drainage system that can drain about 100 inches in a 24-hour period. We're rolling out the turf cut (Thursday), and next week, we'll be putting in logos, hash marks and numbers, and we should be playing it August 3."
The new turf serves as a strong indication that the ECCC administration is fully committed to winning at the highest level in a strong showing of support for its student athletes, East Central CC president Billy Stewart said.
“One of the things that we wanted to do was to ensure that we had a strategic plan for the future,” Stewart said. “That plan has become our road map for the future. When you see our field, that represents a step that we are taking in the success of our student-athletes."
Athletic facilities in today’s sports serve as an instrumental part of developing talent, and also bringing new talent in.
“I think the biggest asset that the field will provide is that it will help us in recruiting,” East Central football coach Ken Karcher said. “We’re in the early stages of building a foundation for a program that has not won in a long time. This is going to help young men want to come here. It is just one piece of the equation, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to have something like this.”
Yet the field will not only serve the football team but also provide a stage for other student-oriented performances in benefiting all of Warrior Nation.
“This field will be the stage for performances for our band,” Stewart said. “Cheerleaders will enjoy this field, and Centralettes will enjoy this field. Our men’s and women’s soccer team will enjoy this field. This field represents where we are headed towards as an institution, and that is excellence.”
The field’s overhaul is one of the more significant undertakings the athletics program has taken on in recent memory.
“Other than the construction of the new gymnasium, this is the biggest thing to happen to East Central sports,” Dean of Athletics and Personnel Services Chris Harris said.
Harris would know, as he grew up in the Decatur area and was an all-state defensive back in 1975 for the Warriors.
“I’ve never seen anything this big happen for the athletic program since I’ve been here,” Harris added.
In addition, the FieldTurf is part of a bigger plan for an eventual football operation center at the north end of the stadium in the coming years.
“Our timetable on that is immediate,” Harris said. “As soon as we complete this project on the field, then we will be right back on top of the operations building project.”
After suffering through a number of a down seasons, including a 1-8 record last year, the potential of the new football operations center is part of the foundation in leading to excellence in the years to come.
“The facilities win,” Karcher said. “Young people want to be a part of good facilities, so having a facility that can offer meetings rooms, quality training areas, weight rooms, these are things that are needed to be successful.”
The foundation that the Warriors set forth on Thursday is the hopeful beginnings of a rejuvenated program.
“This field demonstrates our commitment to excellence,” Stewart said. “It speaks to the growth and development of our program, and I hope this field makes people realize that we are really serious about our commitment level and that they would want to be a part of it.”