Diocesan News

Donors Make Artificial Turf a Reality at Aldrich Field

LINCOLN (SNR) - Last February, a generous donor approached superintendent Father James Meysenburg and football coach Tim Aylward with a significant gift for Pius X High School in Lincoln: a sizeable gift toward purchasing artificial turf for Aldrich Field, the school’s football/soccer field.

The benefactor also promised to help raise the entire $525,000 necessary for the project from other private donors.

“I was very excited,” Coach Aylward said. “It’s been something I had hoped we could get someday.

Currently, Aldrich Field is covered with traditional turf grass. Not only does this require an annual investment in water, fertilizer, re-seeding, etc., but real turf is also hard on players.

“We have had some concussions and minor injuries,” said Michele Birkel, development director for Pius X High School and its foundation.

Artificial turf is proven to produce fewer serious injuries that can sideline student athletes.

“This turf will give our teams a consistent and safe field for practice and games all season,” said Coach Aylward.

It’s also easier to keep in top playable condition. Rainouts are minimized. Plus, maintenance is as simple as raking the field at regular intervals.

The new artificial turf will be so durable, the school will be able to use Aldrich Field more frequently.

“It is a project that will benefit a large percentage of our students – including those who play football, play soccer, take P.E. classes, attend summer camps, and play in the marching band,” explained Mrs. Birkel.

She noted that the handful of individuals who are making this project possible are just one example of the generosity that Pius X High School experiences.
“We have many alumni, parents and friends who regularly support Lincoln’s only Catholic high school with gifts of various sizes,” she said. “We continue to be pleased and amazed that so many people are willing to help.”

Without the initial donor and the others who followed with their own contributions, Pius X High School would not have been able to upgrade Aldrich Field with artificial turf for many years.

Currently, the school and its foundation have other pressing financial needs. These include increasing faculty and staff salaries to match the rising cost of goods and services, building a new kitchen and a new performing arts center, and renovating student locker rooms. Various fundraisers have helped acquire the capital needed to meet these goals.

So until the anonymous donor came forward, there were no plans for artificial turf.

“It was an unanticipated offer that was too good to turn down,” stated Mrs. Birkel.

“Pius X High School and all the Lincoln Catholic Schools are strong, faith-filled schools because we have strong, faith-filled parishioners who see Catholic schools as a vital ministry,” Father Meysenburg said.

Workers will start preparing the field at the end of this month. The old sod will be moved to the practice field to alleviate issues with mud on rainy days. Aldrich Field with its new surface will be ready in time for the first day of football practice Aug. 9, and for the first P.E. classes a few weeks later.

“The players and our students are excited,” Coach Aylward said. “They are looking forward to playing on the new surface.”

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