High school field hockey

Field adjustment: As grass grows, Lions move den down Route 1

Belfast to play home games on artificial turf at Point Lookout
By Mark Haskell | Aug 29, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Belfast Area High School baseball infield.

Northport — The Belfast Area High School field hockey team, at least for the 2019 season, has found a new home.

Athletic director Terry Kenniston said the Lions will move its seven scheduled regular-season home games this fall from Allen Holmes Field — which makes up the majority of the school’s varsity baseball outfield and some of its infield — to Point Lookout.

Kenniston said the plan was for the Lions to play half of their scheduled games at Point Lookout this season, regardless, but the decision was made to move all Belfast-hosted contests to the turf facility seven miles away due to the baseball infield being resodded.

Kenniston said, according to former varsity baseball coach George Ross, who retired after 39 years in 2018, the infield grass had not been replaced in more than 30 years.

“It used to be a skinned infield and they actually built a grass infield in the early (19)80s according to coach Ross and it hadn’t really been replaced ever since,” said Kenniston. “And it’s developed quite a lip and it’s become a bit of a safety issue so we put it on our budget for this current school year to have it replaced. And that took place over the summer.”

The cost of sodding the infield cost $17,000, so it is an investment BAHS would like to protect. Kenniston said, “It’s a win-win for everybody from our perspective.”

“We just want to make sure it takes so when we get to the spring, it’s ready to go,” he said. “Field hockey plays across a portion of that and we didn’t want to damage the field with hockey sticks or have kids sprain ankles or turn knees because they’re going to step from a high grass area onto that skinned base path.”

“And, we have this beautiful facility seven miles from the school that was available to us. It is a rental, but it’s very reasonable. [The] field hockey [team] does fundraising to help pay for that, so it really wasn’t a huge added expense to play here.”

“We were going to have five home games here anyway, so he [Kenniston] said, ‘Why don’t you just have them all [here] and we can let that infield rest,’ " said Lion coach Jan Holmes-Jackson. "And I said ‘sure.’ ”

Allen Holmes Field, named after the coach's father, who led the stick program for decades, is made up primarily of the school’s baseball outfield, but also takes up a portion of the base path between second and third base, in addition to about a 10- to 15-foot section of the newly-sodded infield.

“I didn’t realize with how much of the infield we used until we went out and painted the field," said Kenniston. "We did the two sidelines and the two end lines and I said, ‘Wow, that’s much bigger than I thought.’ I really thought we’d be able to put that in and still play field hockey.”

Holmes-Jackson said her team will take any opportunity it can to play on the faster turf surface.

“We like playing on turf in general,” she said. “Whenever we can play on it, we’re very excited. You’re not playing off bumpy grass or long grass so you can pass better and move the ball better and be more conditioned.”

Regional and state championship games always are played on turf surfaces, which could put them in a more advantageous position when the Class B North playoffs roll around in October.

Kenniston has been led to believe Point Lookout, while being sold in December, will continue to rent their athletic facilities next year.

He added that there is a chance the Lion soccer teams may play a few games at Point Lookout this season, but that has yet to be decided.

The field hockey team will open the season on Thursday, Sept. 5 with arguably its most challenging game of the season — against Gardiner — at Point Lookout.

Belfast Area High School baseball infield. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast Area High School baseball infield. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast Area High School baseball infield. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast Area High School baseball infield. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast Area High School baseball infield. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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