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HAMMOCK: Major upgrade for high school soccer

Reader poll

Where would you like to see the state high school soccer finals played?

  • Silverbacks Stadium 41%
  • Kennesaw State 25%
  • High school stadium 33%

51 total votes.

Video

Talkin' Sports: GHSA Rule Changes

Todd Cline and Will Hammock talk about the changes the GHSA is making. They discuss heat concerns as well as soccer and basketball playoff venue changes.

Todd Cline and Will Hammock talk about the changes the GHSA is making. They discuss heat concerns as well as soccer and basketball playoff venue changes.

Plenty of you have seen the scene, one of the most memorable ones from the 1986 movie "Hoosiers," where Gene Hackman's character calms his players' nerves by measuring a couple of dimensions of the basketball court.

His point, used countless times since by coaches in a variety of sports, is simple -- this building may be huge but the court itself is the same as the tiny gym back in Hickory, Ind.

The motivational technique is good, though it's not always true, especially in high school sports. All playing surfaces aren't created equal.

Just ask high school soccer players.

The sports is meant to be played on a wide field, though many high school pitches in the state are constricted because they were designed for football. Some venues are close to the ideal size, others are so cramped that any player on the field, not just a throw-in specialist, can send a throw-in to the far post.

Some are flatter than others. Some are hugely crowned in the middle. Some have pristine grass. Some have giant patches of dirt.

Still other fields, particularly those with artificial turf, are covered in lacrosse lines that make it hard to distinguish the out-of-bounds lines for soccer.

For all of those reasons, soccer players, coaches and fans should rejoice over Monday's decision by the Georgia High School Association's Executive Committee. Beginning in 2013, the state of the field for state soccer championship matches won't be an issue.

The GHSA has reached agreements with two top-notch soccer facilities -- Atlanta Silverbacks Park and Kennesaw State Stadium -- to host the state high school soccer finals.

The decision of which classes will play in which venue will be based on geography for the teams involved. For example, it would make sense for Collins Hill to play Brookwood at Silverbacks Park, while a Walton-Lassiter game would be a much better fit at Kennesaw.

Both soccer facilities are exceptional, and playing there should be a treat for high school kids.

The Silverbacks' stadium, built in 2006, seats 5,000 fans with long-term plans for 15,000. Kennesaw's $16.5 million complex seats 8,300 and already has hosted national team matches and the 2011 NCAA Women's College Cup.

Those sites are a great reward for high school teams reaching the state finals. Let's hope the GHSA plans similar upgrades to its championship sites in all sports.

State baseball finals at Coolray Field, anyone?

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.