Staff, Coaches Reminisce as Work on New Yelm Turf Begins

By Eric Rosane / erosane@yelmonline.com
Posted 5/15/19

As head soccer coach at Yelm High School going on seven years, Jay Dorhauer knew the rugged, dwindling turf of the school’s stadium very well. 

Looking over the field on a sunny afternoon …

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Staff, Coaches Reminisce as Work on New Yelm Turf Begins

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As head soccer coach at Yelm High School going on seven years, Jay Dorhauer knew the rugged, dwindling turf of the school’s stadium very well. 

Looking over the field on a sunny afternoon amidst scattered P.E. students, Dorhauer was able to give a detailed account of every foot hole, dry spot and pit located in the field.  

“I always thought it gave us an advantage, but I think it also gave us a disadvantage at away games,” Dorhauer said. “But I’ll miss it.” 

Last week, Yelm school district officials got started on the returfing project set to take place over the summer. Once fall sports start up, student athletes will have a new synthetic AstroTurf field, Daktronics scoreboard and an efficient lighting system.

A couple dozen rolls of cut up turf from the old high school stadium were stacked up against the stadium’s fencing last Friday, May 10. At 1 p.m., local residents began showing up to take home a piece of YHS history. 

“I remember coming out to this stadium and watching football when I was 5 years old,” said Nick Parsons, 35, a Yelm resident. 

Parsons, a 2002 YHS alumnus, said he didn’t play sports at all back in those days. Now that he’s a parent, Parsons said he enjoys watching his son play football on the Thurston County Youth Football League. He said it has been difficult for his boy’s team to use the field.

“The reason we weren’t out here more is because they didn’t want to beat it up with the minor leagues,” Parsons said. 

He’s hoping the new synthetic field will allow more community organizations to take advantage of the stadium and its resources. Lifting his small patch of YHS field, Parsons said he plans on using the grass to fill his yard. 

Dorhauer, Parsons and Mayor JW Foster were just a few of the nostalgic-driven citizens that picked up grass rolls. The rolls were part of an auction incentive for attendees at the annual Dollars for Scholars event to benefit seniors, they said. 

The event raised more than $125,000 in scholarship funds. 



Breaking Ground

The following Monday, on May 13, Yelm Community Schools broke ground on the new artificial turf field project. YCS Board of Directors and officials gathered for a small photo opportunity and to informally discuss their enthusiasm for the project. 

As shovels were handed out amongst district employees, one large bulldozer and two excavators began strategically stripping the turf while digging and breaking large pieces of concrete from within the track’s circle. 

Segmented pieces of the field’s football goal posts sat underneath a shady tree.

Athletic Director Rob Hill said while the thought of having a new artificial turf for his athletes is welcomed, a part of him is going to miss the authentic feel of the grassy turf. It’s probably because he’s “old school,” he said.

Looking back on the years, Hill said he had the privilege of seeing both his boys grow up playing football on the stadium’s turf. But overall, the turf upgrade is a welcome change that brings Yelm up to the standard of other schools. 

“It lets our kids stay here. They don’t have to go somewhere else to practice on a turf surface,” Hill said. 

According to district officials, the new field is expected to be mostly complete by Aug. 16. By June, most of the new scoreboard is expected to be finished. 

Superintendent Brian Wharton said the artificial turfing project will cost about $1.1 million and the scoreboard will cost $124,000. The renovated fielding will allow the district to lease out the facilities more and is expected to save the district in maintenance funds. 

“We’re still hopeful for some grant opportunities and revenue-making opportunities that will help offset the cost,” Wharton said. 

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