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FARNER: 'Crumb rubber' could be solution for North practice field

Keith Farner

Keith Farner

As almost everyone admits at North Gwinnett High School these days, the ongoing construction affects everyone.

While the classroom experience has been impacted with hallway detours, the largest effect on the athletics department has been a reduction in practice field space.

It's difficult to pinpoint how much of a dent the rearranged trailers have made on the area, but football coach Bob Sphire said the already small practice footprint just got a little smaller.

And while it hasn't forced dueling sports to compete for the land, at least in the fall, the long-term effects are easy to see. Football is the only sport that uses the area in the fall, but spring soccer season means the grass gets little time to recover at all.

"We can't whine about it, and make excuses about it, we've got to find a way to overcome it," Sphire said. "We make the best adjustments we can make."

Sphire applauded how Principal Ed Shaddix (a former football coach) and Gwinnett County Public Schools facilities and maintenance representatives managed the land-locked school's situation.

But the coach wondered if it may eventually -- say by playoff time -- have a competitive impact on the Bulldogs.

The grass may turn into a hardpan surface, or a mud pit, depending on the weather.

"You can only go in the gym so many times and get your football team ready," Sphire said. "Camden County and Lowndes and those guys are going out on turf everyday with space. They don't have to make any of those adjustments. If you're not careful, pretty soon, that catches up to you. We're not coaching an indoor football team. But at the same time we've to protect what little surface we have."

At Sphire's former school in Kentucky, the surface was FieldTurf, an artificial grass and synthetic turf combination.

About seven years ago, I wrote a story for a newspaper in Kentucky when a substance called "crumb rubber" became popular at several schools around the state where practice fields were worn down.

Crumb rubber is a fine gravel-like substance made out of recycled tires. That year, Kentucky's environmental cabinet gave 21 grants to help pay for the use of crumb rubber.

Before crumb rubber is applied, fields are aerated to allow the rubber to settle into the ground. The rubber layer protects the root stem and aids in water absorption.

Putting crumb rubber on fields turned out to be a win for everyone. The state wanted a solution for illegal tire dumps, and environmentalists were concerned about piles of disposed tires. Another problem was old tires held water that was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Waste management officials also wanted to rid the perception that tire swings are the only way to recycle old tires.

When two schools applied the crumb rubber to two and three fields, the average cost was $76,000. One school paid $22,000 of that from its booster club, and then added it to classroom curriculum about recycled material.

North's touchdown club's field committee has already supplemented what the GCPS does for field maintenance with things like sand, seed and aeration.

So while the limited land situation at North won't change anytime soon, administrators should research crumb rubber to help the Bulldogs' fields.

Keith Farner covers Suwanee for the Daily Post. Reach him at keith.farner@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Comments

hanzvonhanz 1 year, 11 months ago

Personally I think that they need to suck it up and quit crying about the lack of space. I went to North and graduated in 2000. Trust me they have it a lot better now than we had it. My senior year was the first year the field house was open. I can't even tell what North is like now. We used to run the ball then pass.

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SickandTired 1 year, 11 months ago

yep. and maybe not replace the flat screen plasma tv's in the field house every time they break one. they really don't need tv's in the field house anyway.

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NGHS09 1 year, 11 months ago

  1. In 2000 NG football was NON-EXISTENT. Sphire changed that. If he had arrived for the 2003 season, NG would already have a state title on the shelf. The amount of talent wasted by Hammontree, Roland, and Moore was astonishing, and we all know what Sphire has done with a lot less.

  2. They need more practice space in order to prepare for teams that have adequate field space. Like PTR, Mill Creek, Norcross, Collins Hill, Colquitt, Camden, Grayson, Lowndes, McEachern, and about 20 others. Get real "hanzvonhanz". Asking for more space in an ever-inclosing school lot is not abnormal or demanding.

  3. The flat screens are used to watch film and hold video conferences with college coaches. Also those TV's are used to show film of NG players to college coaches like Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin, Mark Richt, David Dean and many others. Say what you will about Sphire and his demands, but you cannot argue the six 10 win seasons, 3 region titles, and multiple deep playoff runs. Also the long list of major and minor college signees.

Especially right now, Sphire could use ALL of our support.

Turf fields are costly, but would save Gwinnett tons of money in the long run.

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SickandTired 1 year, 11 months ago

Those TVs might be used for all you claim. Fact remains those kids don't respect the property and they have been replaced a few times because of negligence. Last time I looked HS was to educate a child and prepare them for life after HS, whether it be college, military service, entering the work force, etc. Send a player DVD to Saban, Miles, Richt, Chizik. Flat screens are not necessary for those functions. Especially if the students don't take care of the public property. Not when kids have to share books at North because they don't have enough to go around. Priorities!

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NGHS09 1 year, 11 months ago

The money for books comes from a COMPLETELY different source than the money for the field house. WHO CARES about the TVs anyways. As long as Sphire continues to win, why should any care about flat screens that the booster club pays for? By the way the kids are doing just fine in the classroom. Sounds like some of ya'll have a personal grudge against Sphire.

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warhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

What are you talking about "SickandTired" and "hanzvonhanz" ????

Have you been up there to see what they have to practice on, with all the construction going on???

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SickandTired 1 year, 11 months ago

Yes you are correct as long as sphire continues to win that's all shaddix cares about. While other sports at the school struggle for equipment, field space and competent coaching. At NGHS there are two sets of rules....one for the football players and one for the rest of the student body. Yet football has yet to produce a state championship while other sports at North have.

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SickandTired 1 year, 11 months ago

@ warhawk...the construction is only temporary. In the interim let them rent field space at Gary Pirkle Park on the turf field like the soccer teams at NGHS have to do in order to accomodate LAX team practices/games. If Pirkle is good enough for the Georgia Force team it should be good enough for NGHS.

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NGHS09 1 year, 11 months ago

Again you fail to realize that the booster club raises the money. Shaddux has no control over what the football team gets and what other sports don't get. You obviously have a grudge against Sphire and the program. If the other sports are "hurting bad" then they should RAISE money. This is so simple idk how you are still trying to make an argument. Oh, and no sport has certain rules Over another. That's a childish comment made by a likely childish person.

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NGHS09 1 year, 11 months ago

@sickandtired... Please tell me what sport doesn't have "competent " coaching". That's so utterly incorrect. Baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, swimming, cross country, and of course football all make very regular playoff appearances. If you want to start pointing fingers then complain about Lanier opening, or the huge number of athletes living in NG's district that go to other schools. They need more practice space anyway they can get it, end of story.

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SickandTired 1 year, 11 months ago

I did give examples of favoritism to footballers at North vs. the rest of the student body and incompetent coaching however, the moderator must have deleted my post. sorry but the truth shouldn't be censored. I pointed out some of the illegal activities footballers got caught doing (didn't use names) but I obviously hit a nerve with someone at GDP.

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Don 1 year, 11 months ago

Maybe they (booster club) needs to look into renting some field space. There are fields available to rent or come up with about 750k to put sports turf down.

I really do not have much compassion for this as swimmers only have four pools for the entire county. They must travel to them at their own expense.

NG football-suck it up and quit making excuses!

Football may think it is king but the minor sports deserve some compassion.

We place way to much emphasis on sports over academics in this county!

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warhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Also....please remember the Gate sales for football helps pay for some of the other sports

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kevin 1 year, 11 months ago

"Sphire applauded how Principal Ed Shaddix (a former football coach)" You have got to be kidding. A football coach a principal? No wonder we have problems teaching kids. It is all about sports first. Never lived in a place where each school has to have its own field and a very high cost to the county they represent. School teams in many large cities "share" two or three locally owned fields. They alternate days and times. How much more does the taxpayer have to take? The school system is raping the taxpayers. High school teams have played on grass field for 50 yrs. Have they now turned into cry babies? It isn't all their money being wasted.

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suedehead 1 year, 11 months ago

Kevin, once again you have no clue what your're talking about. You're probably one of those geeks in high school that thought sports were a waste of time and all jocks were stupid. Probably because you couldn't compete.

  1. There is nothing wrong with a coach becoming a principal. In fact, a coach probably posseses more leadership qualities and are better suited for the position than a regular classroom teacher. A coach has to deal with players, parents, fund raising, county administrators, community leaders, the media, those outside the district, etc. When computing the time/pay, coaches make far less than a 7-3 classroom teacher. AND MANY ARE PROUD TO DO IT.

  2. We have "problems" teaching kids today because so many are either coddled at home and can do no wrong, or there is little parental involvement. Quit throwing everything on the teachers. Their job is to educate the child, not to raise him/her.

  3. I'm proud that Gwinnett schools each have their own stadium. It provides a sense of community and the school benefits from the gate receipts. Drive by a high school and see how many are walking the track. Most of the "extras" you see like filed houses or such come from fund raising and booster support, not from the taxpayers. In basketball, the county provides the gym, balls, uniforms and transportation to away games. THAT"S ALL. For anything else, you're on your own. Also, excellent facilities attracts excellence. Both in the class and on the field. I don't see people flocking to put their children in an Atlanta, Dekalb or Clayton County school.

  4. Also, the gate at shared stadiums is not split between the teams playing but goes into a centralized fund for all schools. A system which is flawed due to greed from the powers that be in the Central Office. You obviously have no idea about the state of athlectics in Dekalb County. The county provides zilch. Some teams can't even get to away games because the county doesn't provide gas for the buses. What would motivate a school/community to succeed when their hard work is taken away from them in the name of "fairness" Why do you think Franklin left Tucker? (I'm sure you have no clue who he is, but those in football know.)

  5. Grass fields are far more expensive to maintain than artificial turf. Reseeding/soding and watering throughout the year costs thousands. It's not just varsity football teams using the field on a Friday night 7-8 times in the fall. There's soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, band, etc.

Again, the fact you ended your statement with a question further solidifies the fact you have no idea what you're talking about.

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