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Cheshire High School senior Ashley Zane protects the goal for the girls' lacrosse program. While the amount of shots she stops is within her control, the team's field condition at Bartlem Recreation Area is a different story. A field that doesn't drain well traditionally has been dug out due to recent rain.
“It's really difficult because there is a lot of standing water. It can be slippery and tough to play on,” described Zane, a first-year starter. “Cleats usually help with it and you try to take shorter steps than longer ones. You just have to get used to it.”
Zane faces the same dilemma as do many spring athletes. Winter has passed, but it's impact combined with April showers is still being felt on playing surfaces. CHS girls' lacrosse head coach Dan Warburton was concerned about his home field before the season.
“We kept off it initially,” recalled Warburton. “During the season, it doesn't dry well. You can see the puddles developing.”
The Lady Rams have played four home games, which began April 6 against Hamden. Turfus, a dirt conditioner, has been applied to firm up the worst spots at opposite ends of the field.
“It soaks up the water to keep the grass firm,” explained CHS Athletic Director Steve Trifone. “We've managed to get the games in (as scheduled).”
But, Trifone has been forced to change other sites and times. Boys' lacrosse has yet to play a home game at the David B. Maclary Athletic Complex. The girls' team also had a night game moved earlier at Bartlem. The plan is for the girls to play tonight against Guilford at 7 p.m.
“We decided it wasn't ready for contest. The Board of Education maintenance takes care of that (field),” said Trifone. “So much goes on in the spring, we wanted to make sure that it is ready. If we start playing too early, the grass will come up and all we'll have is dirt.”
Two tennis courts at the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Department additionally developed sizable cracks over winter, so the CHS boys' and girls' teams started playing matches at Cheshire Park. Dalton Track and Tennis of Cheshire was hired to repair the cracks with tar beginning Tuesday, as schools are on break for spring vacation. According to Parks and Recreation Director Bob Ceccolini, the project will cost $3,000.
“They couldn't be repaired until the weather warmed up,” added Trifone, of needing extended days of 60 degrees. “It didn't surprise me that we received some pretty big cracks on there.”
Cheshire Youth Baseball/Youth Softball, however, doesn't have as many issues with the fields when it begins the season, primarily because it benefits from several factors. First, the Fourth Annual Field Preparation Day was held April 2. Field boxes, benches, fences, and infields/outfields were repaired at Bartlem, McNamara Legion Fields, Cheshire Park, Highland Elementary School, and Dodd Middle School. Fields were edged for crews who were spread out across town.
“With our number of volunteers, we can address all the fields. Parks and Recreation donates machinery and clay for the fields,” explained first-year President Dennis Boucher. “The fields were probably only a week behind last year. There were no issues.”
Boucher approximated having over 50 people come out this year. The Board of Education also contributes to this effort.
“Every time we put out something, we get more than enough volunteers for each cause,” said Boucher.
Secondly, time is on their side. Games don't start until April 25 and Opening Day festivities are five days later. According to Boucher, there are 78 recreational teams and six squads of Cheshire Reds.
“The weather is warmer. It gives teams a chance to get on the field and practice,” stated Boucher. “I'm very excited for a new season.”