Grassless Glory

With the help of donations, Malvern is going to convert its baseball field and Father Flynn Field to turf. These fields are on track to be completed in the middle of April and will mainly impact the Baseball, Lacrosse, and Soccer teams.
Grassless Glory

In April, after a large construction project, Malvern will add two new turf fields to the already impressive athletic facilities. The baseball field, along with Father Flynn’s field, will be fully converted to turf as opposed to grass, benefitting the baseball, lacrosse, and soccer teams. Initially, the fields were expected to be finished by March 1st. However, permit issues were imposed at the beginning of the process, and now the middle of April is a more realistic timeline. These fields will make playing and practicing much more efficient for these teams. 


Mr. Jim Stewart Jr., Head of Athletics, explained the early process behind turfing these fields. 


“Whenever you have new construction on campus, there are permits that have to be approved by the local township and borough. This is a very detailed administrative task that requires a lot of planning and time. Once the proposal is submitted, the timeline can vary in terms of approval from the township and borough.” Stewart said.


Currently and until the fields are complete, when baseball has a game, they must rotate three teams on two fields. With the addition of these two new fields, they will not have any of the scheduling difficulties they’ve dealt with. Until the turf field’s completion, the baseball team will head off campus to the Glen Mills School. This school, despite closing many years ago, maintains all of its facilities for public use. Malvern Baseball is renting field space until the new turf fields are open. Additionally, the baseball team will play almost all of their games away or at a neutral location. Luckily most of their games were already scheduled away, so they aren’t losing their home-field advantage. The few games homes they have before the turf fields open up will be held at the Clocktower School. 


Along with converting the baseball field to fully turf, they are making some big changes to the dugouts and stands surrounding it. The design of the field will be brick to follow the norm of most collegiate baseball fields. In recent years, the spectators have had trouble watching the games due to the left field line being so close to the lacrosse field. Before these changes, the only way to view the entire field was to stand in the right field. 


Malvern placed a big emphasis on seating when constructing the new field. Now, there will be 47 seats behind home plate, and you can purchase your name on a plaque on these seats for the price of 2,500 dollars. Also there will be bleachers down the right and left field lines to bring the viewers together. In recent years you would have to bring your own chair to comfortably watch malvern play.


Jason Bozzone, Director of Major Gifts and Planned events, expressed the positives of the new seating arrangement.


“I think it’s an important emphasis because for many years, parents and fans had to bring their own chairs and it was down the right field line. [Now], all the fans will be together behind the backstop and next to the dugouts so it’s not spread out. All the fans are together, parents are together, [and] alumni are together. So it really makes that school spirit experience, that is second to none.” Bozzone said.


Along with being able to buy one of the 47 seats behind home plate, there are many other opportunities to get your name engraved in the administrative campaign’s motto: Forever Malvern. Forever Malvern stresses the importance of being a part of Malvern’s society as a Malvern family, alumni, or donor. Different ways to do this include: naming the stadium for $2,500,000, the field for $1,000,000,the locker room for 500,000, dugouts for 50,000, or seats for either $2,500 or $1,500. This money will help pay for these turf fields, and future construction. The importance of these donors is unmatched, and Bozzone emphasizes how he, along with the administration team, is forever grateful for this.


“You need donors, whether they’re Malvern, lone parents, [or] community members that believe in the mission of the school. And I think that’s vital to why we’re so successful.” Bozzone Said.


The second team that will be impacted is the lacrosse program. Lacrosse will be playing strictly on campus, so turf time is very costly. Lacrosse and baseball tryouts are happening simultaneously, so they are splitting time on the football field. Once the conditions straighten out, lacrosse can move their tryouts and practices to the grass. The lack of turf time is detrimental at a crucial part of the season, so once these fields are complete, teams will not have to scramble to find practice time. 


On top of that, middle school sports begin on the 11th of March, so that is another 60 athletes who need practice time. Initially, this would not have been a problem if the fields would have been finished by March 1st. Due to the fact that it will be another month and a half, the middle schoolers must use a different field, prohibiting the high school Lacrosse programs from using those fields. Sometimes, the middle school will need to get creative if the JV program has a game or needs practice time.


Mr. Stewart along with other faculty and coaches are delighted with the progress being made and how the fields are shaping up. 


“When I’ve walked out there seeing the progress, I’m really excited. It looks incredible,” Stewart said.


Now that Malvern’s 37-game baseball season has been released, if the fields are completed on time, that marks 21 games into the season. While this seems like bad news, it would mean they only miss two league games. On top of that, the positives outweigh the negatives by a landslide. Usually, towards the start of the season, the field conditions will be too wet for use, but turf has synthetic fibers that allow for quick drainage after a rainstorm. 


Fred Hilliard Jr, Malvern Prep baseball varsity head coach stated the positive impact turf presents during inclement weather,


“[This presents] the ability to play quicker after we do get rain. Before, if it rained heavily on a Tuesday, we were lucky to get back on it by Friday.” Hilliard said.


Last year, the baseball team found that in the earlier months of the season, the ball would come off the ground awkwardly. This creates problems for the infield who have to quickly field the ball to make the correct play. Jonathan Holt, a Malvern senior varsity baseball player said:


“The ball comes more true off the bat on turf, opposed to grass. On our field last year, we experienced a little bit of difficulty, especially in the earlier months like in February [or] March..” Holt said.


Another upside is the cost, every year, Malvern dumps money into the infield and maintenance costs. There is a lot that goes into maintaining a natural field, including cutting, watering, and fertilizing the grass. Also, the third party use will increase immensely, with possible summer tournaments or even camps for younger children. This field is a win-win for all parties involved.


Coach Hilliard, when asked his initial reaction to the fields undergoing the turfing process said,


“[I was] ecstatic to be honest with you. It’s something we’ve desired for a long time. I know for years we’ve been trying to figure it out,” Hilliard said.


If these fields are completed on time, both the Lacrosse and Baseball programs will have more than half the season to get used to the new feel of their home fields. This is more than enough time for the teams to prepare for the playoffs. These two programs are some of Malvern’s strongest and usually have very dominant seasons. 


Last year, Malvern’s baseball team took down Perkiomen 6-3 and were crowned PAISAA state champions after an incredibly commanding season. Lacrosse was the same after winning the inter-ac championship against a tough rival in Haverford. These fields were much needed, but also much deserved for these two very valued programs.


The fields have been a goal for not only the baseball and lacrosse teams for years now, but also the Soccer team. The Soccer program will get a boost in facilities once they start up in the fall. Their main field will be “Father Flynn Field”, which will be completely turf. This is a massive upgrade compared to the natural grass field played on last year.


Overall, Malvern will be improving two of their main sports fields to create a better environment for their athletes. This has been in the works for a few years now and has been greatly anticipated by the community. This is an enhancement for the playing experience of both the Malvern Friars and the competitors we welcome on campus for athletic events.

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    Jason BozzoneApr 5, 2024 at 9:11 am

    Killian and Dom this is a very good journalistic approach to informing the community all the great things happening at Malvern. Great job on reporting!