Tonganoxie High soccer coming home

Chieftain Park has been mostly off limits since last fall, but at Thursday's Tonganoxie Recreation Commission board meeting, THS senior soccer players asked to play on the field again. The board and the playes came to an agreement with the board to play some games at the field. Enlarge photo

August 24, 2017

If the weather cooperates, the Tonganoxie High boys soccer team could start playing home games at Chieftain Park late next month.

About a half dozen THS seniors spoke at Thursday’s Tonganoxie Recreation Commission board meeting about wanting to return to playing games at Chieftain Park.

The field was off limits when the reseeding process started after Tonganoxie’s boys season ended last fall. It was going to be off limits again this year. TRC officials have been limiting use of the field since crews overhauled the field. The space had to be reseeded because invasive bluegrass had a very shallow root system that was causing it to stress in the summer. Subsequently, TRC wanted to give the field time to take root before more soccer would be played there.

Players, though, voiced concerns about the safety of playing games at the west campus soccer complex, which is a revamped middle school football field. When it was to be used primarily for soccer, the track was taken out. The team has bounced back and forth playing games the last few years at the THS complex and at Chieftain Park.

The players also said they prefer playing games at Chieftain Park, Eccles said. After all, THS has to play varsity games first because there are no lights at the high school complex.

Initially, the board and the players agreed to moving varsity home games, with junior varsity games still to be played at the high school complex.

School officials, though, weren’t keen to that idea, as splitting the two teams caused some logistical problems.

To reach an updated compromise, TRC moved the first games back so the same amounts of games would be played with the addition of junior varsity contests.

“We’re still not ready,” Eccles said. “But we’re pretty confident that by the end of September when they would start playing that there’s enough roots that they’re not going to tear it up.”

The players have agreed to replace divots after games and put the “Field closed” signs after games conclude. The goals also will be removed after each game in hopes that the fields won’t be enticing for others to play on as the root system continues to improve.

And, if other elements, such as rain, come into play, TRC will cancel matches at its discretion.

Eccles said the potential home opener at Chieftain Park would be Sept. 21.

“That gives us some time to get another application of fertilizer and another month of root growth,” Eccles noted. “We’ve had pretty good weather the last several weeks. It’s probably ahead of schedule.

“It’s not been too hot and dry. We didn’t have a crazy amount of 100-degree days and stuff.”

The rec commission’s turf specialist recently checked the grass and everything seems to be progressing well.

The specialist monitors the grass by pulling a plug and getting a soil sample 6-8 inches deep into the ground.

Eccles said there still was some work to do before the Chieftains play on the field, such as rolling and flattening the field. More reseeding will take place after the season, he said.

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