The class of 2013 has big plans; read all about it and see lists of local grads in this section.
Fields of dreams
The football field is complete, the baseball diamond is coming.
Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington will play its first home game on the renovated Msgr. James W. McMurtrie Field Aug. 31, when they host rival Bishop Ireton High School from Alexandria.
Ground was broken for the new athletic fields last September. Renovations on the football field include a new press box, bleachers, a high-tech artificial surface and a six-lane track that circles the field. The field width was extended so it can serve as a regulation soccer field. The cost of the renovation was $4.6 million.
The new field was used last month by O’Connell head varsity football coach Del Smith for football camps. But the O’Connell football team was not able to practice on it until late last week because of last minute touch-ups. The team practiced at Waters Field in Vienna.
Smith said the new field is a marvel of technology. It has a special synthetic surface that has extruded monofilament fibers that mimic grass. Smith said that the colored lines, numbers and the Knight helmet in the center are not painted on. He said that the installers laid the surface and then stenciled the markings, then cut the stenciled areas out and sewed the colored patches into place. It makes for a field that will need less maintenance.
“It’s a great surface,” Smith said. “It’s a fast surface.”
There will be no lights on either the football or baseball fields. Last year the Arlington County Board rejected O’Connell’s request to install lighting for the fields. Games will be played during the day.
“It’s tough being an urban school,” said Smith, commenting on the lack of lighting.
Junior varsity head football coach Todd Sabatino said he and his players are eager to get on the new turf.
“(When) you’re out there, it feels like a college stadium,” he said. “Everybody has been real excited.”
Smith said that the baseball field will be ready in September. Now it’s mostly large piles of dirt dotted with heavy machinery. The new field has been turned 180 degrees to mitigate errant balls and to address other safety concerns. The baseball field also will sport new synthetic turf and bleachers.
O’Connell and Marymount University in Arlington have agreed to share the use of the baseball field. Marymount plans to field its first varsity baseball team in 2014.
On Sept. 5, the girls’ soccer team will host Archbishop Spalding High School from Severn, Md. The boys’ soccer team will play St. Mark’s High School from Wilmington, Del., Sept. 8. On Sept. 12, the field hockey team will welcome Pope John Paul the Great High School from Dumfries.