Imagine if you were a member of the class of 2016 and the new turf field at Grandville is being built your senior year, would you be happy? Even though Kiersen Korienek, a former Grandville Girls Soccer player, was a freshman the year of 2016, she was ecstatic about the new field. Kiersen exclaims, “Having the new soccer field was a badge of honor for me.” Now think about having a new field your senior year and being the first team to play on it, pretty amazing, am I right?
The new turf soccer field has been a complete success, bringing in more revenue than ever because it has offered lots of opportunities for multiple travel and college teams to rent out the facility. Mr. Klienheksel, an Assistant Athletic Director at Grandville High School even says, “MHSAA loves to use our fields for tournament games, as a result we have hosted boys lacrosse regionals, quarter finals and semifinals games for playoffs over the last few years, so if we didn’t have that known field we wouldn’t be able to host all those tournament games.” The process of adding the field was a combination of a bond and a sinking fund. According to Mr. Parsons, the Athletic Director at Grandville high school, the field was built in 2016 and was made possible through a sinking fund. To go more in depth, the sinking fund is voted on by the voters which is renewed every 10 years. But once that is renewed, the school can do projects, such as the turf field, to positively impact GHS. Most importantly it impacts student athletes. Coming from Mr. Klienheksel, he states, “If you’re a sports purest, I think it provides a pure element to some of those games because the conditions or elements don’t get in the way.” Without a second turf field most sports would be playing on grass. The downside about grass fields is they get torn up and are harder to maintain so you have to limit how often teams can be on them, making the job harder for athletic directors because they have to use a more strategic approach when creating schedules for practices and games. Having two turf fields allows us the ability to have sports teams practicing from 3pm-9pm everyday on both fields.
One main positive impact the soccer field has on Grandville as a whole is how there has been an increase in the community’s support. “It provides a good atmosphere for sports to be played, there’s no track in the way, the fans can be close to the action and it’s a small venue so there’s not a lot of fans in general that you’re trying to navigate around,” says Mr. Kleinheksel. The facility was designed to be a top of the class field that draws more people in not only because of the cozy atmosphere but also because it’s on campus. Especially on nights with multiple events happening, having the field on campus is key because there are more people within the vicinity that can help support. Another key component of having an on campus field is no transportation issues, making Mr. Parsons, the head athletic director’s, job easier. “We used to play soccer at Grandview Elementary but it’s harder to take a freshman team that doesn’t drive yet,” Parson explained and he’s completely right. Coming from my perspective of being a student-athlete at Grandville, trying to get to events that dont take place on campus is a hassle. It’s very convenient for all grade levels but most importantly underclassmen to have a field on campus.
When Korienek was asked about the impacts the field had on girls soccer, she had a very different take on it. She had mixed feelings about the impacts because she loves the new turf and was thankful for it, however she wanted a field dedicated to just girls soccer. Kiersen explains, “I don’t think it changed much for girls soccer, if anything it was almost a ‘downgrade’ for us. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would so much rather drive a mile down the road to have a grass field to ourselves, then have to fight boys lacrosse for the locker room because they “need it for practice” when we have a game that starts in 15 minutes.” Unlike Kiersen, Randy Tate, a former Grandville Girls Soccer coach, expressed that the field had a great impact on girls soccer and all sports in general. He exclaims, “One of the most obvious and immediate effects was a massively improved training experience for the athletes – of multiple sports.”
Even though Covid has restricted students and parents from coming to games, there are still a number of ways to get involved including watching the live stream of games and going on the field when open to get better at a sport or even to just hang out with friends. But for the best experience, I highly recommend asking around for tickets or asking Mr. Kleinheksel to film games.