By Eric Althoff
FORT WORTH—One school in the Big D region will soon have a state-of-the-art track and field facility thanks to improvements at Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD), Fort Worth’s oldest co-educational college prep school.
FWCD has begun a $3.5-million improvement project of its athletics fields, entailing excavating one of the two existing field hockey fields as well as repurposing the Rosacker Stadium field and Barrett Havran Track with state-of-the-art running surfaces. The project, funded by local donations, will improve the playing surfaces for soccer, track, football and lacrosse.
One of the grass-surfaced field hockey fields will become a “wet” field, meaning it will have a water-based turf surface that will enable the school to maximize the “weathering” of the field prior to each individual game and practice sessions. FWCD will be just the third school in the entire state of Texas to utilize such technology.
The grassy field at Rosacker Stadium will be changed to a fiber-based turf surfacing provided by Shaw Sports Turf such that it gives the appearance of natural grass—and with the extra support of synthetic turf. Beneath the turf will be shock absorbers and an infill system to cool off the field, and this will also head off mildew and mold buildup.
At the school’s Barrett Havran Track, a new paving system called the PTS 4000 sandwich system manufactured by Paragon Track Surfaces will be installed. This state-of-the-art athletic field will eventually serve as a venue for track-and-field events.
“Our track and turf fields improvement project is truly game-changing for FWCD athletics,” Eric Lombardi, head of school at FWCD, said in a recent statement. “No more rainouts because of saturated fields; no more worries about wear-and-tear during practices or competition. We’ll have the ability to host international-caliber athletic events—all while showcasing our 104-acre campus.”
Fort Worth-based Paragon Sports Constructors was hired for the work. Bobby Killion, vice president of operations at Paragon, said that the “wet” hockey field provided some challenges for his team to overcome.
“This is a unique and completely sports-specific playing surface that incorporates an irrigation system to wet the turf before play to get optimum performance from the field,” Killion said. “This turf system has very tight tolerances for the playing characteristics and the planarity of the surface, and these strict tolerances make this field challenging to construct.
“This field is also unique in that there are a very small number of these fields in Texas, and this is the first one in Fort Worth.”
Fort Worth Country Day has been open since 1963,and employs over 200 people.
“My top priority,” Lombardi, FWCD’s head of school, said, “is to ensure that FWCD student-athletes are able to pursue their athletic interests on safe fields and surfaces that offer the highest level of standards for competitive sports. Calling this project ‘transformative’ would be an understatement.”