The Lincoln-Sudbury girls softball program is in need of a new playing field. Over the years the field has gotten progressively worse. It wasn’t always like this. Before the new high school was built the girls softball team played on a beautiful field. (That field is now under the new high school.) Today, the outfield is mostly clumps of crabgrass and dirt, and the right field corner slopes down 40 inches. The infield is uneven and strewn with rocks and divots. Bad bounces are common and it has become increasingly difficult for the girls to play without injuries. The girls’ field stands in stark contrast to the other athletic fields at L-S. The condition of the field is a safety issue and not at parity with the other athletic fields at L-S – a Title IX principle.
We had the opportunity to speak with some of the JV and varsity players last week during tryouts. When asked about their experience playing on the field, here’s what they said: “It’s very easy to trip and we have ankle rolls constantly. The ball dies unexpectedly and it takes weird turns due to the way the outfield slopes down, and because it keeps going, it takes longer to make a play. The ball also jumps up after hitting the bumps from crabgrass in the field, which makes it hard not to get hit in the face. If we play after it rains, the drainage is bad and there are puddles which makes it very easy to slip.”
We reached out to Nancy Childress, the Lincoln-Sudbury girls softball varsity coach. She reiterated what the girls said about the complexities of playing on the field in its current condition. She recalled having to pick up glass from the dirt before a game so the girls didn’t get hurt. They keep a rake handy in the event of rain so they have a way of removing the puddles between first and second base. One year they had to put kitty litter down to soak up all of the puddles from the rain. The L-S Grounds and Maintenance have been extremely helpful and have provided a lot of labor to maintain the field as best they can, but even that just isn’t enough. Nancy closed our conversation with “the girls deserve to have a playing field of which they can be proud.”
We also asked for input from Nancy O’Neil, athletic director for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. She is well aware of the challenges with the current condition of the softball field. She voiced her frustration over the lack of funds and the priorities competing for the limited funds they receive each year for Athletic Programs. She said, “What’s important now is we all need to be part of the solution.” She praised the Lincoln and Sudbury communities for their ongoing support of the athletic programs. Over the years, Nancy has seen people of this community rally around a cause. “It wasn’t that long ago this community, in partnership with L-S, brought the first girls ice hockey team to Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.” When asked how she feels about the softball field condition, she replied, “These girls deserve better, it’s about safety, equal opportunity and pride.”
A group of parents have decided to do something about it and have formed Friends of L-S Softball (“FOLSS”). Its mission is to support the L-S softball program and to specifically develop and implement a comprehensive plan to rebuild the L-S softball field. The first component of the multi-year restoration project is to literally “level” the outfield and create a safe playing environment. This outfield plan consists of three phases:
- Electrical upgrades
- Landscaping/ground leveling work
- 3) Irrigation.
FOLSS hopes to complete this project in the August/September 2012 timeframe so the new outfield will be ready for the 2013 softball season. The longer-term plan will likely include infield improvements, additional fencing, foul poles and potentially dugouts and lighting.
Last month, a number of students from last year’s LSRHS softball program along with FOLSS members presented their case to the school committee. The school committee approved the plan, however could not provide any of the funds needed for the outfield project ($50K plus) or incremental costs for ongoing maintenance of the new field ($1,500 per year). FOLSS, along with the 2012 girls softball program, have put together a number of fundraising events in hopes of contributing to the funds necessary to start the project this August and have a new outfield for the 2013 softball season:
- April 28 – Babysitting Night
- May 16 – Sudbury Girls Softball League Night
- May 20 – Car Wash
On Saturday, March 24, FOLSS and the players combined to host an Electronics Recycle Fundraising Event. The support from the community was tremendous and got the initiative off to a good start for the first phase of the restoration, focusing on the outfield. If we can continue to see this kind of commitment to “leveling the playing field,” we have no doubt that a new field is on the horizon!
In parallel to fundraising, FOLSS is pursuing other avenues for donations including, but not limited to, LSRHS Boosters, Sudbury Community Preservation Committee (which substantially funded the LSRHS football field), local businesses and individual donors. FOLSS is currently working on a donor recognition program. Details will be forthcoming.
Please help the girls level the playing field, by participating in upcoming fundraising activities. Donations can also be made to:
Friends of Lincoln-Sudbury Softball
P.O Box 100
Sudbury, MA 01776
(Checks made payable to FOLSS (501c.3 pending))
The Friends of Lincoln-Sudbury Softball