March 26, 2014 11:50:38 PM
STARKVILLE -- When Jamie Mitchell took the head coaching job at Starkville High School, he mentioned first the program's potential for the state's best facilities.
This past week show another step in that potential the SHS coach talked about turning into reality.
The construction of the fired turf field on the SHS football field began with the completion date targeted at middle of May so the football program can debut the surface for the summer camps.
"We're hoping our 7-on-7 camps that we'll have at Starkville High will be able to be on the turf," Mitchell said. "It's been a two and a half year process between myself and Dr. Stan Miller (Athletic Director at Starkville High School) to get the funding approved."
The plans, which were approved by the Starkville school district months ago, includes the installation of a new field turf surface purchased from Shaw Sports Turf.
"The field is not only going to be aesthetically pleasing, it will provide us with the performance characteristics our student-athletes need to be successful," Miller said.
The new field turf is part of a reclamation project for Starkville High athletics and, specifically, the football program. Last fall, the school opened a new field house, which includes a larger film room, a new weight room, a newer and larger locker room area, updated and modernized coaches offices, and a new equipment room.
Not only will the turf field utilize the revolutionary Bolt fiber system, it also will use the new HydroChill cooling system which has been shown to reduce surface temperatures by 50 degrees to reduce cramping in the early season games of the first month of the year.
"We're going to not only have the best football field in the state but also the best track for our athletes in Mississippi as well," Mitchell said.
Bolt is a stronger, more resilient, monofilament fiber, featuring a lightning bolt shape which creates a stronger vertical axis that causes fibers to stand upright for less breakdown and increased durability. Bolt is specifically built for performance and to reflect light for a lower luster and more natural looking field.
Bolt is in play at several places, including Furman, Montana Tech, Quincy University in Indiana, and Mount Paran Christian School and Dalton High in Georgia.
Mitchell has been at other schools in the state such as Olive Branch High. He said the new turf will give his players another benefit and will reduce weather concerns on game days.
"I can remember our kids walking nearly a half mile to practice every single day and rain causing problems in how we would be able to conduct practice sessions," Mitchell said. "It's a matter of pride to this community that our athletes have the best facilities we can afford to give them. Our community and Dr. Miller have really stepped up to make that happen in a big way."
Starkville is among several Class 6A programs in Mississippi with a field turf playing surface or with one in the developmental stages. Tupelo High hopes to install field turf for its football and soccer teams in the next few years.
The school's stadium upgrade also includes a new track surface. In addition to the football and the track and field teams, the soccer teams, the band, the school's physical education classes, and the baseball team will utilize the facility.
"Starkville High School has a proud athletic tradition, and we are proud the Yellow Jackets will be playing and practicing on such a state-of-the-art field," said Wynn Vinson, territory manager for Shaw Sports Turf.
Starkville expects to have the new field turf when it opens the 2014 season.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
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