You can hear the excitement in the voice of Covington head football coach JR Kirby as you ask him about his brand new grass pitch.
“Huge,” he said Tuesday morning when asked how important the new grass pitch was. “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but in the past I cut the grass at midnight or 2 or 3 a.m. sometimes when it was going to rain.”
Those days are over.
“Last week there was a big storm and we were back on the pitch the next morning. It’s good.”
There is still some maintenance needed, but not much. He “swept” the field on Monday after spring training ended this weekend with a scrimmage against Crockett County. Sweeping involves using a golf cart to pull a device that picks up litter and extra “CoolPlay,” which are small green rubber particles that provide traction and keep the surface cool.
Kirby said their field, as well as those at Brighton and Munford high schools, are identical to those used by several top NFL and college teams.
“The grounds that our children and the children of Brigton and Munford play on… There are no better grounds anywhere.”
There was some pushback when the board approved the $3.8 million project last year to install sod at the county’s three secondary schools. Facebook posters expressed concern over on-turf injuries and cost. The funding came from the school system’s fund balance and not federal relief funds, which were incorrectly reported by The Leader.
The facts are that the turf fields that are installed these days are exponentially better than the turf fields of the past and the grass fields will soon be a relic of the past. Dozens of schools in West Tennessee and across the state have installed sod or are working to do so.
“I’ve seen comments on Facebook about injuries,” Kirby said. “There will be injuries, but it’s not because of the turf. It’s like walking on air.
Kirby said every junior varsity game for Covington this year will be on grass, and six of the 10 regular-season varsity games will be on grass as well.
“Kids love it. The football team, the track team and the cheerleaders were part of it,” Kirby said. “There are endless possibilities.”