Even if you have been living under a rock, you know Elmore County has gotten its fair share of rain and then some over the past couple of weeks. There has been no avoiding it.
Teams have been hard at work making sure their fields are game-ready, only to have games postponed by even more rain. But they seem to be taking it in stride and fields have continued to be playable.
Well, most have.
Some baseball and softball fields cover your shoes in mud by the end but they hold up well enough to play. Some soccer fields have been the same but I’ve also seen some that aren’t fit for a pickup game, much less an AHSAA match.
I finally got to get out to a soccer match for the first time this season when Wetumpka hosted Russell County. It was cold but I was excited because, as anyone who reads my columns knows, I’m a big soccer fan.
After being postponed from the night before and rain in the days leading up, I expected to see some mud and grass get kicked up. But what worried me was seeing the how little grass was actually flying up because it was mostly mud by the end of two matches.
I know it is not an easy job to keep up a field like that during this weather but I also know that field has looked a whole lot better with a lot of rain during football season.
This is not to call out Wetumpka because it is not alone. I saw the same thing at Stanhope Elmore the following Friday night. There was less rain and less mud but there was very little green except weeds and there were gaps in the touchline across the field because the paint couldn’t hold to the dirt patches.
These games still should’ve been played because getting in games is important and the conditions aren’t getting much better. But playing on these types of field conditions is extremely hazardous to the athletes.
We don’t have the biggest soccer but those athletes still deserve the best resources they can get. This is something I saw last year and I assumed it was something many soccer teams with grass fields deal with but that theory was put to shame when I traveled to Benjamin Russell less than 24 hours covering the game at Wetumpka.
The Wildcats had a perfectly green pitch that held up better than I have seen all year. I saw a big divot made just once and a goalie actually fixed it between plays because even the players cared about the field they were on.
Benjamin Russell’s field is too high of a standard for everyone to meet but I have seen grass fields that stay green during soccer season elsewhere too. These fields seemed to just be abandoned from care until the football teams are ready to jump back on for spring practice.
This may be a bigger issue behind the scenes I don’t know about but it certainly seems some schools just do not put the care into their soccer program the way they should. I have had several soccer coaches from this county talk about how field care seems to disappear during their seasons.
It may be funding, it may be resources or it may just be about actually caring. Whatever the reason, something needs to change. And don’t do it for me — the random rabid soccer fan in Elmore County — but for the athletes’ safety because they deserve more.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Tribune.