MACON, Ga. — Soccer season has arrived and one school now has a competitive edge on their campus. Stratford Academy is rocking a brand new turf practice field, and the upgrade will help them stay on the pitch rain or shine.
Rainouts were a big problem for the Stratford Eagles in 2020.
"We kind of have this rainy season through February where everyone goes 'I hope we get a few practices in every week,'" said girls soccer coach, Kate Blankenship.
The Eagles had to cancel eight home events due to weather before COVID-19 cut the season short.
"Eight home events, that's just unreal," said boys soccer coach, Iain Jones.
The solution to that problem is a brand new turf practice field, thanks to a sizeable donation from Stratford's Hutchinson family.
"It just goes to show how generous some of our families are and how much they love this school and how much they want it to be the best," Jones said.
Stratford has a natural grass game field. The new practice field allows high and middle school teams to not only stay on the field despite poor weather, but also train for any opponent, grass or turf.
"I think it's a pretty big difference, just as the ball moves. It's usually a lot faster on turf. It makes you move a lot more. The bounce is different," said senior Madison James.
Athletes got their first taste of the new field recently. Blankenship said their reaction was priceless.
"They know how lucky and blessed they are to kind of have this field and some of them took their shoes off, because it was like, 'it's so soft' and you know it's like walking on fresh carpet for the first time," Blankenship said.
The field is not the only improvement coming to the soccer complex. Stratford will rename it the Hutchinson Soccer Complex and improve drainage to the grass field, add LED lighting to both fields and renovate the complex's concession stand.
The school will also add sidewalks and improve locker rooms that are connected to the concession stand.
Stratford will have the field to train on through the season. Once the season ends, the other improvements will be put in.