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A-Turf field receives rave reviews from soccer players

Jamestown, NY – The $2.9 million athletic field renovations at Southwestern Central School are paying dividends in more areas of athletics than on the football field for the 5-0 Trojans, ranked sixth in the state in Class C football. The new A-Turf synthetic field is getting rave reviews around the soccer divisions for both the boys and the girls soccer team. ”All the comments I’ve received have been very positive,” Southwestern boys coach Mark Sleggs said of the new field. ”It plays truer.” According to the A-Turf Web site, the synthetic turf is comprised of a synthetic, rubber-only infill featuring ambient and cryogenically processed rubber-but what does that mean to the athletes who play on the field? ”It’s probably the greatest field of all time I’ve ever played on!” Fredonia forward Max Crinin said enthusiastically after playing on the turf Tuesday. If visiting players like the feel of rubber fibers under their feet, imagine how Southwestern soccer players, who practice and play on it every week, feel. ”I love playing on it and it most definitely gives me an advantage playing on it everyday,” Scott Beresford of Southwestern said. It’s a new era of home field advantage at Southwestern. Beresford, one of the featured scorers for the Trojans, thinks the turf gives him an advantage. The general consensus is that it plays faster-but only slightly. Even defenders on Southwestern soccer teams like the new field. ”I really like the turf. It’s really smooth and hard to turn an ankle on,” said Lisa Matteson, a defensive stopper for the Lady Trojans. Southwestern has broken the ground on more than just an expensive home field advantage for the boys and girls soccer teams. It has implemented the first turf of its kind to a high school playing surface in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus County region. Sports as an industry is always focusing on new technology to make training easier, to make athletes better and to improve the quality of play. Breaking ground on a new field using top-of-the-line synthetic turf to enhance the overall athletic experience isn’t any different. ”You’re going to start seeing this type of turf more. We’re extremely fortunate to have (the Southwestern Schools Education Foundation) raise money and do all the stuff they did to get this field,” Sleggs said. Walking on the synthetic-rubber fibers is a treat in itself, let alone playing soccer on it. It provides a much softer feel than natural grass or other types of artificial surfaces. ”It’s very therapeutic to walk on in bare feet,” Sleggs said with a straight face, welcoming newcomers to the field to give it a try without shoes on. The biggest question always asked when comparing a natural grass surface to a synthetic turf concerns the safety of it. Being in place for only a couple months provides too small of a sample size to compare it next to a grass field, but so far-so good. ”It’s hard to say if it’s safer than grass, but with only two regular season games left we haven’t had an injury all year on either side, boys or girls,” Sleggs said reassuringly. Trojan defender Dylan Agett has an interesting perspective on the new turf regarding injuries. ”When you slide on it, it hurts a little bit-you can get a brush burn from it, but it doesn’t hurt when you fall on it,” Agett analyzed. The usual knock on a synthetic field is that because it is often built on top of a concrete slab, it can be painful to fall on. Sleggs also pointed out another difference in the field at Southwestern to grass soccer fields around the county. ”The ball doesn’t bounce very high off of it and I’ve never seen a ball bounce over someone’s head,” Sleggs explained. ”Also, I don’t think it takes a lot out of the legs-not saying grass does.” While the rest of division and all of the competitors who play on the field are adjusting to the nuances of ambient and cryogenically processed rubber on their soccer fields, Sleggs has a simple goal for the athletic program at SWCS. ”Our goal is to host playoff games here. We are going to try to be good hosts and we want other teams to feel welcome here,” Sleggs explained. With more renovations than just a new field, the Southwestern athletic complex appears more than adequately suited for future tournaments and playoff games. New bleachers and a new scoreboard highlight the other enticing additions that have been added to the complex, now courting soccer playoff committees.

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