TOWNSEND — Field space is at a premium this fall at North Middlesex Regional High School. The construction of the much needed new school building broke ground this spring and with that, some of the high school’s athletic fields were sacrificed to make room for the new building, which is being built adjacent to the current school.
The new school is being built on what was formerly the field hockey field and extends back towards the location of the softball field.
So, what does this mean for fall sports?
According to athletic director James Bunnell, it makes scheduling a chess match.
Luckily for Bunnell, a handful of schools in the Midland Wachusett league understand what it is like to undergo a school renovation.
“So many of the other schools have done stuff like this,” Bunnell said. “They know what it is like to go through a transformation. They are very accommodating. It works out, because if you are hosting boys’ soccer, the girls are away. On paper, with September approaching, it looks great … if it doesn’t rain. If I get no rain during those months, it will work out perfect.”
The North Middlesex Regional School District custodians created a brand new softball diamond at Hawthorne Brook for the high school to use this spring
“It is just going to mean a lot of shuffling around games and practices,” Bunnell said. “We will be using both the Pepperell and Townsend youth soccer practice fields. We had no problem getting the support of both local town soccer programs. It is good that the communities understand”
A lot of the games will be played on the grass of John E. Young Memorial Field.
Fields take a lot of wear-and-tear over the course of a season from one team, now factor in multiple teams using it out of necessity.
“Game-wise, managing where you are going to put everything is going to be the toughest part,” Bunnell said. “Going from six fields to three is not an easy thing.
“At one time, I could have three or four games going at our site, now I can have only two. It is going to be a challenge for us.”
The construction project will not impact the practice and game schedule of the football team. The Patriots’ practice field down behind the Ralph Schoppe Memorial Baseball Field is still intact and was reseeded at the end of the school year.
“Field hockey will practice in the baseball outfield, now that their game field is gone,” Bunnell said. “The field hockey team will now have to play all of its games on the football field. It is just a matter of getting used to not having a lot of games going on at once. The maintenance staff has been great.”
Fall is not the best season to undergo a scheduling shift like this, Bunnell admits, with 12 teams in play.
Not easy, but the change is welcomed, because the end result will be great.
“The coaches and students all understand that this is necessary,” Bunnell said. “But, for the next three years, we just have to finagle a way to schedule everything. Luckily for us, we have a great maintenance and custodial staff that is willing to support and help. The administration and towns in the district have been a big help in accommodating us.”
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