By Jess O’Connor
The Sonoma Academy soccer teams faced a new challenge this year, as the construction workers hurried to put the finishing touches on the new Chris Ziemer field.
“We learned during the summer that our project was delayed,” said Athletics Director Chris Ziemer.
His namesake, the Chris Ziemer Field, has been under construction since mid-July, but the administration quickly realized that it would not be completed in time for the 2015 season opener.
“There’s just layers of permitting,” said Ziemer, when asked to comment on why the field hadn’t been finished in time. “I looked into other field options in the area.”
The other option he mentioned turned out to be the field at Sonoma State University. They were more than happy to welcome the high school soccer players, and had a positive effect on the teams, according to girls’ soccer captain Sally Ziemer.
“We’re spending more time together on the bus rides,” she said, “it’s also kind of fun to be training and playing games on a college campus. You see all the college teams and people just walking by.”
Sometimes the college teams practiced at the same time, Sally said. One of her co-captains, Chloe Colbert, also expressed her gratitude for the soccer teams’ temporary home.
“SSU was awesome to let us use their field,” Colbert said, “and it worked out well every time.”
As to how the teams adjusted to the commute for every practice, Colbert says they did just fine.
“It was kind of rough in the beginning, just [because] it was a big transition,” she said. “So that was kind of hard, but it became really easy, and we just kind of got used to it.”
Now that the field is finished, finding a place for the soccer teams to practice is no longer an issue. Earlier this summer however, the FIFA Women’s World Cup brought to light another issue with turf fields. This was the first year that FIFA used turf fields for the games, and many of the players complained of extensive burns due to sliding on turf instead of grass. Chris says this is just one small part of a bigger picture.
“Any field you have, there’s going to be pros and cons,” he said. He said that although the players will have to be more careful when they slide, the previous field suffered from overuse. Rocks and mud pits were hidden dangers that any team needed to watch out for.
Chris said that although “soccer purists” prefer real grass, the advantages to having a turf field are more cost-effective. The new field will be an all-weather field, although he did say that temperatures will be much higher on sunny days because of the materials used to make turf. According to an SA press release, the field, which is made of eco-friendly Futrfill, will be “up to 30 degrees cooler than rubber.”
“If I had the choice between turf and nice grass I’d pick nice grass over turf,” said Sally, when asked if she had any concerns about a turf field. “But then again, turf is nice because, you know, the bounces are cleaner.”
When asked about sliding on turf, Sally didn’t seem too concerned.
“If I slide on grass I usually just get one cut, [whereas] if I slide on turf it rips off whole layers of skin,” she said. She plays on turf with her club team, however, so she’s adapted to these sorts of injuries. She said, she thinks that turf might keep some girls from sliding, but other than that it wasn’t going to be a problem.
“I guess it kind of depends [on] how into the sport you are,” she said.
“I feel like [you’re] just as likely to get hurt on a grass field, especially the field we had just because it wasn’t always up to par, there was always lots of holes,” Colbert said. “We’d be more likely to twist an ankle. This is going to be very smooth.”