Commentary: Light the turf field at Morristown High School!

Editor’s note: Will Morristown High School’s turf field–built thanks to a major fundraising campaign–become a victim of its own success?  An MHS football booster weighs in with a proposal.

By Tim Heaton, co-president MHS Colonials Touchdown Club, Football Boosters

Light Memorial Field NOW!

Lights at MHS football fieldWe have all witnessed unauthorized use of the Turf field. During a recent Football Booster meeting, we caught a couple of pick-up soccer matches that occurred during Marching Band practice. Rounding out the festivities was a private fitness class, sand-castle building and, of course, skate-boarders. After dark, soccer continued under the security lights.

My first thought was, “I need to open the snack stand during the week!”

Seriously though, the Turf has a limited life. There are plenty of no-trespassing signs, but no compliance. During the booster meeting it was discovered that the turf was ripped. The likely cause was the townsfolk dragging the soccer goal over the Turf’s seams – MHS coaches require their athletes to carry the goals.

So then problem #1 is: Unauthorized use of MHS facilities.

This summer I wrote an article that some credit as the catalyst of the Jr. Colonials and Wildcats merger. However, the actual catalyst happened weeks earlier: that was giving the Jr. Colonials practice time on the MHS campus. My theory is that the prime motivation for choosing either program is geographic.

Now the Wildcats have been relegated back to the Woodland School field because the MHS fields are booked until 7 PM. This allows only 1 hour of practice before dark. Parents are again forced to drive to through town during rush hour and so the motivation for the merger is nullified. I predict that if a central practice location is not found that the merger will be reversed next season.

And problem #2 is: Limited practice field availability in a central location.

When the Wildcats (or any youth program) are not practicing on campus, MHS is losing recruiting opportunities. I believe that if we do not actively promote MHS, we will continue to lose a large percentage of the best student athletes to the preps. When those students become successful alumni, their support goes away from MHS and Morristown forever. Note: According to a recent poll, 95 percent of EVP’s in the Fortune 500 played HS sports – the preps must know this, ‘cause they ain’t offering scholarships to poets.

Solution to unauthorized use of MHS facilities and field availability? Light the Turf!

Lights would increase Turf use by 30 percent in some estimates, while simultaneously decreasing unauthorized use (assuming Wildcat parents are scarier than the Marching Band). Additionally, lights would concentrate upcoming student athletes on the MHS campus and to the MHS coaches, thereby increasing positive awareness of our school.

One solution, lighting the field, solves several problems. The field is already wired for lights. The benefits are manifold; and one would think, overwhelming. For football, time is critical. The lights must be installed before next season or youth football backslides.

 



Comments

  1. Margret Brady says:

    This sounds like another out of town resident trying to take advantage of Morristown residents without consideration for the fact that the local residents already subsidize Township activities while the Township rarely shares any of their facilities with Town residents. Its bad enough that the negative impacts of the turf field is only felt by Morristown and its residents. There is a lot of evidence that turf fields are bad for the environment and those who use them.

    Why not lights too. I recall all the complaints from the Township when any lights were proposed for fields in their neighborhoods. The Township has much more space for all sorts of activites, so why not relocate some of them there?

  2. thedeadhand says:

    “During the booster meeting it was discovered that the turf was ripped. The likely cause was the townsfolk dragging the soccer goal over the Turf’s seams – MHS coaches require their athletes to carry the goals.”

    We already know you don’t like soccer or those darn “townsfolk” that play it, but you have zero evidence. The high school kids are equally likely culprits despite their coaches “requirements” (you’ve got to be kidding me).

    I’m actually in favor of putting lights on the field so that more teams, clubs and “townsfolk” could use it, not so that football can run practice from sundown to midnight which is, as far as I can tell, the sole argument in the above commentary.

    God forbid that youth football backslides–we might create another poet which is fantastic as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Tim Heaton says:

    thedeadhand,

    Your observation that I don’t like soccer is incorrect. I don’t like XBOX, et al.

    Although football does have certain advantages to youth, it’s no-cut sport and doesn’t require a specific skill set like baseball or yes, soccer.

    But before this turns into a football commercial, I will point out that the other sports who could benefit from lights have been silent. It’s wasteful to have an unlighted turf field. I hope the other sports and clubs join football’s quest soon.

    By the way, I knew I’d be asking for trouble with the literary set. If my kids wanted to be poets I’d advise them to do whatever in life makes them happy. However, the term “starving artists” applies nowhere better, and I’ll stand by my observation that prep schools don’t offer scholarships to aspiring poets.

  4. Township Resident says:

    I find your phrase ” ‘cause they ain’t offering scholarships to poets” completely offensive. Actually, there are more college scholarships available for academic merit than for athletics. I fully support your right to raise awareness of and build the quality of the athletic program at MHS but there is no need to insult others along the path.

  5. Township Resident says:

    I also just noticed this phrase of yours: “(assuming Wildcat parents are scarier than the Marching Band)”. What does that even mean? If you want to make progress on your cause I suggest you stay focused and stop insulting other people.

  6. “The preps must know this, ‘cause they ain’t offering scholarships to poets.”

    What a telling comment. Fun fact: Joyce Kilmer taught at Morristown High School, then went on to become a famous poet who wrote one of the most beloved poems in the American canon, “Trees.” He (yes, he) died a hero in World War I. Never let it be said that poetry can’t confer glory on a school. And for the record, private schools hand out loads of academic scholarships — some probably even to poets.

    This commentary reeks of football entitlement, as though other activities and competing interests are just pesky distractions from the one thing that really matters. If you have a compelling argument to make for lighting the field, make it, but please refrain from potshots at soccer, “townsfolk,” the marching band, and even poets. Not everyone shares the belief that football comes before academics, other sports, the arts, or the needs of students and the community.

  7. Tim Heaton says:

    People, we’re talking economics There is a hard money reason why the preps recruit athletes and that is because 95% of the EVPs in the Fortune 500 played high school sports. The preps must secure long term funding to be successful. If you bring me evidence of local preps recruiting kids that are pure academics I will retract my comments and offer an apology. Good luck.

  8. The author seems to arge that: (1) lights are needed to prevent unauthorized use of the turf field; but more importantly, (2) lights are needed to permit greater access to the turf field by the Wildcats football team, a feeder program to the high school football team. From that assertion, the author further extrapolates that lights on the turf, increasing the ability of the feeder football program to practice, will encourage town and township families to send their children to Morristown High School rather than “the preps,” and that when these children become alumni, and successful business executives,they will contribute to MHS. eaving aside the tenuous, at best, connection the author appears to rely on a 1987 survey of executive vice presidents for his statistic that 95% played high school sports. That survey, however,t does NOT say that 95% played high school football. There is no possible benefit to anyone but football players. The author also omits the rest of the survey which stated that 54 percent were
    involved in student government, 43 percent in the National Honor Society, 37
    percent in music, 35 percent in scouts and 18 percent in the school’s publication.

  9. Tim Heaton says:

    Don’t forget about the entertainment value in my piece. Speaking of which, the football coach wasn’t any more successful than the MHS Band last night at clearing the field of trespassers. My money is still on the Wildcat parents. (see article)

    If you need more proof of the benefits of sports to youth, I will accommodate. Here’s one I would have used if I was involved in Girls Soccer or Field Hockey

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-nationwide-research-finds-successful-women-business-executives-dont-just-talk-a-good-game-they-played-one-75898622.html

    To gauge the shortage of practice fields, reach out to any one who has kids.

  10. None of which has anything to do with putting lights on the turf field, unless perhaps there are a significant number of girls in the Wildcats program?

    Again, the point is not that there arebenefits to youth sports but the dubious argument that putting lights on the field will attract star athletes to the high school who would therefore be likely to go on to be successful business executives who then contribute to MHS. The statistics you cite do not support that, nor does common sense.

  11. Tim Heaton says:

    It does have everything to do with lighting the Turf.
    Field availability would rise by 30%.

  12. Good news is that the Morristown Wildcats 5th, 6th and 8th grade teams made it to the play-offs. MHS was chosen to host all 6 playoff games last Sunday the 10th.
    The big payoff for the community is influx of families spending money from about 8AM to 6PM last Sunday in Morristown’s eateries and in the Wildcats concession stand. The bad news is that because it gets too dark after about 4PM to play without lights on the MHS field, the Wildcats will probably not be hosting another playoff series. (In spite of Wildcats volunteer’s best attempts to make do with portable lights.) FYI, there were wide-spread complaints from the parents of other towns. Overheard were several comments like this, “why would the league have playoffs in an unlighted field?” Indeed! Lots more opportunity will be lost if we don’t plug the lights in at MHS. Business for the town and Public Relations for the families we need to keep at MHS. The field is a valuable resource. Lighting the field increases the value of our resource (obviously I think?) The field is wired for lights. Lights would increase playing time for the town’s youth. Lights would mean more games during the school year which would mean more business for Morristown merchants. Somebody help me with this question: Why isn’t the Morris School District turning on the lights?

  13. Lots more opportunity will be lost if we don’t plug the lights in at MHS. Business for the town and Public Relations for the families we need to keep at MHS. The field is a valuable resource. Lighting the field increases the value of our resource (obviously so, I think?) The field is wired for lights. Lights would increase playing time for the town’s youth. Lights would mean more games during the school year which would mean more business for Morristown merchants.

  14. Our goal as a community should be to make our children as successful as possible. Sports are a valuable tool (see above). Since Morristown is short on space, we need to have lighted fields so that all the kids that want to play can play.

  15. Comments from the petition signers, read what the community says about lighting Memorial Field.
    Lets go people!

    Give Memorial Field Lights at MHS! It’s only fair to have them. It would benefit the players and coaches a lot!

    Great concept!

    Morristown High School has to get with the times. We need lights and more athletic fields

    This is a great idea!

    This is only the start!

    We have a beautiful turf field! We need to be able to use it day or night ~ there is no reason why a school such as ours cannot utilize their field for night games, especially considering we are so fortunate to have such a terrific turf field advantage! LIGHT UP MHS!

    This is a need for all MHS sports. Our kids need to leave as soon as sunlight leaves which ours them at a disadvantage in training and hosting night games.

    I am in complete agreement with this petition.Also want to include the need for a girls softball field to be put within this municipality with lights so we can catch up with other towns who are miles ahead of us..

    Where I live now you don’t have a field without lights. Our games/practices are at night. Light the field…hello?!?! MHS ’77

    Football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, feeder programs, etc … improve, maintain and protect the fields/facilities as a school-focused community asset.

    Let’s make our school competitive.

    It continues to surprise me that a few politicians in town acquiesce to a handful of nay-sayers that think putting lights on our field will destroy the remnants of a once bucolic residential area now surrounded by high-rise apartments, commercial buildings and rental properties. I pay my 21st century real estate taxes, but my son can’t play on a 21st century field…even Cass Tech has lights!!!

    The absence of lights at the baseball and football fields in Morristown and Morris Township is a disgrace. If people can light tennis courts all over town than light the fields. The fondest memories a kid can have of his youth sports experience is playing under the lights. For that we have to go to other towns. I recently attended a game at a lit field in south Jersey on a Friday night and the scene was something out of a glory days movie. Don’t let this continue. The sports program in Morristown needs as many breaths of life as it can get.

    Lights will enhance the field and demonstrate a commitment to great facilities.

    Youth sports is good for our kids and for our community. Space in Morristown is extremely limited, so being able to play at night will allow our kids to get more time being together doing positive things which benefits Morristown.

    make a pro and con list — the pros significantly outweigh the cons!! Do it!!

    Turf field with lights will be an asset for MHS and will open up more opportunities for the scheduling of games/events.

    Every other high school has lights. Let’s get with the times. Just because there are houses by the school doesn’t mean they can protest it forever. Someone’s got to stand up and do the right thing and gets those lights. The pros far outweigh any cons. It’s been far too long of a fight.

    I agree there should be lights on the football field.

    It would be very good to have lights and I’m hoping and praying that we will for the next event.

    I am for lighting MHS turf field

    Will be a huge benefit to many sports and activities for all levels

    Lights on Morristown High School Memorial Field

    Really? Why wasn’t this part of the original plans? I don’t see where the lights will affect any nearby residents.

    The Friday night HS football game is a tradition across our country that brings communities together. As an MHS alum and now father to a student athlete, I can say without a doubt that being able to host evening games is an asset to any school and surrounding community

    I am Class of 1993 and now reside in Georgia. I have seen what “Friday night lights” is all about. MHS deserves this tradition as well. Not to mention track meets would gain as well.

    This would be a great addition to the Morristown Community.

    As a Morristown Alum,..and contributor–I would LOVE to see Lights at the Field

    YES, YES, YES!

    Definitely need lights.

    It continues to surprise me that a few politicians in town acquiesce to a handful of nay-sayers that think putting lights on our field will destroy the remnants of a once bucolic residential area now surrounded by high-rise apartments, commercial buildings and rental properties. I pay my 21st century real estate taxes, but my son can’t play on a 21st century field…even Cass Tech has lights!!!

    Should have been done when they installed the turf. Way to go!!!

    Please know that I support an illuminated field. To that end advances by lighting engineering has made the installation cost, and operation cost effective. Similarly the lighting design can be detailed to be sensitive to neighboring properties, yet effective for field use.

    We, the undersigned, call on the Morris School District to light Memorial Field at MHS.

    It would be great for the community for the field to be available at night. Friday night football games are an integral part of the high school experience and I’m sure attendance and support for the local team would skyrocket.
    http://www.hometeamsonline.com/teams/?t=c&u=COLONIALSFOOTBALL&s=football

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