BANGOR TOWNSHIP, MI – It is the same playing surface as the Notre Dame stadium.
Brewed by the same team that turfed the Big House.
This is John Glenn’s new soccer field. And Bobcats feel like they have something big, special and wonderful right in their backyard.
“It’s going to be a great feeling when you come to John Glenn, and that’s the goal,” Glenn’s trainer Jon Horton said. “We want people to know that when they come here, it’s a great game.”
The FieldTurf installation team is finalizing John Glenn’s prized project, a $1.9 million investment that is making the playing surface and track inside Albert E. Johnson Stadium something to behold.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the project fell short of its goal of being ready in time for the first college home game of the 2022 football season. Glenn is scheduled to host Birch Run on Thursday at 7 p.m., a game that will be will relocate to Bay City Western.
When the Bobcats return home for the Sept. 16 clash with Frankenmuth, they intend to unveil their new facility. The synthetic turf and track are the first of their kind in Bay County and are similar to the fields recently installed at Frankenmuth High School, Saginaw Valley State University, Central Michigan University and, yes, Michigan Stadium. Notre Dame and Michigan Stadium.
“It’s as good as a field can be,” said Horton, the second-year coach. “I was talking to the construction team and they told me it’s the exact same material as the Notre Dame field. Knowing that is great.”
While they have to wait a couple more weeks to set foot in the new John Loop Field, Glenn’s players are excited about the prospect of being the team that can get in. Since football practice began on August 8, they have watched the new facility come together day by day before their eyes.
“I can’t wait to fly on that grass,” said Glenn senior Carson Dabrowski. “It will be a highlight for Glenn for a long time and it will be nice to be able to say I played in it my last year.”
Of course, inside with the new media outside with the old. And that means a big departure from tradition for the Bangor Township School. Legendary coach John Loop forged a footballing tradition at Glenn with his brand of ground and pound ball, one that is suitable for grass, mud and slope.
Those conditions are a thing of the past with the installation of FieldTurf.
“It will be good to be on a secure base,” Horton said. “At the Swan Valley game last year, when you set foot on the ground, you weren’t sure where it was going to go.
“I think he was standing ankle deep in water.”
Thus, a time of change began. Matt Schmidt, superintendent of Bangor Township Schools, said the facility suffered from drainage problems for years. The water used to cause damage to the soccer field, as well as the track inside the stadium and neighboring tennis courts.
The latest round of repairs led the school board in a new direction, Schmidt said.
“The board has made a commitment to use district funds,” he said. “And it’s not just because we wanted a flashy new course. Instead of pouring more and more money into the tennis courts and track, and just throwing money away, we needed to fix the core problem, and that was the drainage system.
“Since we were digging up the field, we decided it was best to move to a synthetic field and go from a soccer field to a multi-use field.”
The new field is lined for football, soccer, and lacrosse and can also be used for softball, as needed.
“It will be accessible to all students,” Schmidt said. “We’ll have gym class, there’ll be a field day… We plan to use it to the fullest.”
Schmidt said the grass itself has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. The cost of replacing the turf is partially offset by savings in the maintenance — from fertilizing, lining and mowing — of a turf field, Schmidt said. In this case, he told her, having a flashy new field makes sense for a variety of reasons.
“The goal is always to do our best to make Bangor Township Schools a co-curricular experience,” he said. “We want it to be a great educational experience in the classroom and a great experience outside of the school day. And those things are connected.
“We want kids to be involved, and that doesn’t necessarily mean athletes, but also in the band or in the plays. The more children who participate, the greater the benefit to our community.
“And when you have a facility like that, it really energizes people.”
While the wait is a bit longer than expected, the soccer team certainly has energy for its new grid.
“I was able to tell (the players), ‘The effort that went into this, it’s you, as students and athletes, who have raised the energy in the community to this point,’” Horton said. “‘You are the guys who are going to set the tone, and that is a unique opportunity.'”
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