Whether it’s the crisp fall air and the sound of a marching band as the football team enters the stadium, or the crack of a bat hitting a baseball as the scent of popcorn wafts over the bleachers, countless memories are formed on athletic fields during high school and college. But these facilities are more than just the site of sporting events. They serve as a central hub of activity for a cross-sector of students, teachers, coaches, parents, and members of the community.

At Wight & Company, we’re committed to creating recreational spaces that are enduring and adaptable, which is why our partnership with FieldTurf means so much to our team and to our clients. While many of us are familiar with a natural grass surface on an athletic field, artificial turf fields are growing in popularity owing to their safety, durability, and lower maintenance costs over the life of the field.

At De La Salle Institute on the south side of Chicago, Wight renovated and replaced the high school’s varsity football/soccer field and varsity baseball field with synthetic turf from FieldTurf. Significant facility upgrades included new baseball dugouts and storage, a new backstop with netting, new high mast lighting, and associated infrastructure including underground stormwater detention storage, plus the installation of a decorative gateway entry and pedestrian pavers to enhance the fan experience.

We recently revisited this project to speak with Tom Shergen - Principal of De La Salle and the former athletic director of IC Catholic Prep in Elmhurst, IL - on how these fields have transformed the student and faculty experience. With the transition to synthetic turf, multiple student organizations can use these spaces with no downtime and very little maintenance. Significantly, neighborhood groups can also take advantage of these state-of-the-art facilities, becoming a visible symbol of the school’s commitment to equity, dignity, and inclusion.

It’s been our honor to work with De La Salle, and a number of other high schools and colleges, on 57 synthetic turf projects (4.5M sq ft of turf) in the past 15 years. Our team will continue to stay on top of the latest technologies and features that impact the design, project management, and construction process for synthetic turf athletic fields, including supporting infrastructure and facilities.