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Raiders Scramble for Field Space after Butler Turf Field is Closed

fieldhockey3Scarsdale fall sports teams have been scrambling to secure field space after the abrupt closing of the Butler turf field just days before the start of the season. The turf field, the epicenter of Raider spirit during fall pre-season, is shared by girls field hockey, girls soccer, and boys soccer.

Concerns about the vitality of Butler field are not new. Over the past few years, Scarsdale’s Maroon and White organization had been campaigning to replace the 10 year-old turf, with plans to start renovation once the fall season was over. But as preseason approached, it became clear that it was not safe for fall athletes to play on the field. Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi sent a note to the Scarsdale community to announce the closing, emphasizing key safety concerns:

-At every five-yard line, the field level changes.
-There are several locations on the field where the level changes more severely.
-Where the pre-construction borings were performed, the surface cannot be repaired completely; the turf is too old and worn.
-After each hard rain, more low spots appear, infill aggregates, and playing conditions continue to degrade.

So, where does this closing leave the athletes? For one thing, they must wake up early. With a lack of available field spaces, teams like soccer and field hockey utilize turf whenever they can. Girls field hockey players uses Edgemont’s turf weekly at 6 am, and the girls soccer team woke up at six am during pre-season to use field space at Fox Meadow Elementary School.

A sentiment of frustration is also present among fall athletes. Some athletes feel that actions should have been taken sooner to solve the turf issue, and it should not have come at the cost of an entire fall season. Senior soccer Captain Allison Stafford noted, “If there was considered to be any risk that Butler Field would not be suitable for play this fall, it should have been replaced this summer.” Senior field hockey star Sam Felder felt similarly, saying, “it’s frustrating that the turf has been in such bad condition for so long and nothing was done about it and now our season is suffering as a result.”

The field hockey team is especially impacted by the turf closing. The sport, which requires a fast moving ball to ensure high-level play, is almost always played on astroturf. With grass fields being the only available options in Scarsdale, players are having a difficult time adjusting. The team practices mostly at Scarsdale Middle School, periodically busing to Edgemont turf when a time slot becomes available. Felder noted that playing on the grass makes the ball move “painfully slow,” with a pass that would have moved 50 yards on the turf moving 20 yards on the grass. As a senior leader, Felder believes that a lack of turf practice will affect the freshmen the most, as many of them are just learning how to play the game. Lastly, the constant switch between grass and turf could leave the raiders at a disadvantage when playing against opponents on their home turfs.

The turf field is a symbol of Raider pride during the fall season. Students flock excitedly to support their fall teams under the rented lights during night games. The bleachers allow room for a “raider rooting” cheering section. Stafford emphasized that her and her teammates were really looking forward to playing home games on the turf because “they bring a lot of excitement, and the loud fans cheering us on in the stands always hypes up the team.” Without Butler to play on, Stafford is disappointed that “the other seniors and I will not have the opportunity to play in that kind of environment during our last high school season.”

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