“Hayfield of Dreams” sinks to unusable status

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“Hayfield of Dreams” sinks to unusable status

Chris Moon

Chris Moon

Chris Moon

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The “Hayfield of Dreams” has been a mainstay of the Hayfield campus for decades. Since the school’s founding in 1968 all the way up to the present day, it has remained a place for high school baseball players to practice and play games every spring. However, this year the Hayfield baseball team will be moving to South County Middle School for their home games. Although it will break decades of tradition, the drainage of the field has become a serious problem for Hayfield’s campus, and the field has been deemed unsafe by Fairfax County, forcing the change in location.

The water drainage of the baseball field has been a problem for years, as the field is often moist and squishy, and players observe that they have been sinking more and more into the outfield each year. This year the situation has only gotten worse.

“Our field is totally swamped and would be very hard to play on,” senior Grant Johnson said.

Although the drainage has long been an issue, the source of the problem still seems to be unclear, according to athletic director E.W. Nowland.

“We’ve been working on the field with Fairfax County Water Authorities, Stormwater Management, and now the Superintendent of Facilities for Fairfax County has just gotten involved,” Nowland said. “You can’t walk on it, [and] you sink three to four inches, so Bill Curran, the Director of Athletics and Activities for Fairfax County, at one of his site visits said [that] we can’t play on the field. It’s unsafe until we find out what’s going on, so the field has been shut down through the summer.”

While the source of the leak is currently unknown, Nowland hopes that with the Superintendent now involved, they will uncover the problem sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the consequences of the move will cause major changes for both the JV and Varsity baseball teams this season. The teams will share the spacious South County Middle School turf field and will head to the field by bus every day for practices and games, the cost of which will be covered by Fairfax County.

“Most of the time the buses will leave Hayfield about 3:30 and return at 7:00,” Nowland said. “It is going to add another hour to our baseball player’s day. I’m sure some students will use that time to study on the bus, [and] others will use it as a social time. Being part of a student athlete is time management, and we’re trying to make the best out of a not so good situation.”

With a large time commitment each day, keeping up with schoolwork is sure to be difficult, and players will likely have shorter amounts of free time. However, many players on the team seem unconcerned about the extra time and are confident that they will be able to manage everything effectively.

“[We are] definitely going to lose out on some homework time, but there is plenty of time to be able to get all work done and still make it out for practices,” senior Alexander Guidinetti said.

Most players are also confident that there will be similar attendance of their home games as last year, despite the fact that they will be off campus.

“I’m hoping people will still come out this year to watch us even though it is a hike, but we will make it worth their time if they do,” Johnson said. “It is really unfortunate, as being a senior and not playing at home is not favorable, but the field doesn’t matter as much as being able to play.”

To incentivize attendance, the Hayfield athletic department has decided to not sell tickets at the games, so all fans who attend Hayfield home games at South County will get in for free.

Even though this is a difficult situation, the players and coaches are excited about the potential benefits of having a turf field.

“The feedback [head coach] Mike Shore has gotten from the players [indicate that] they’re excited. They’re excited they do have a place to practice every day and that we’ll be able to play outside more than some other teams,” Nowland said.

Last year, Hayfield had the most rained out games in the county, often having to cancel multiple days after it rained simply because the field wasn’t draining any water. Record rainfall last year during the spring made last season’s schedule difficult to predict due to these water drainage issues.

“I do believe that changing the home field was the right move, as our field was in poor condition. I think it was best for player safety, and getting to play at South County on the turf field will allow us to be out more and get more done,” Guidinetti said.

In the meantime, the Hayfield Athletic Department will continue to work with Fairfax County to resolve the issue, particularly regarding the risk of the campus leak jeopardizing the well-being of the softball field, football field and other fields on campus in the future.

“We’re just hoping for the issue [to be] resolved because of course we want our students here on campus,” Nowland said.“A beautiful spring night where you can watch baseball, softball, lacrosse or soccer [is] what our community is all about, and we’re going to lose that aspect this year not having nights with all of our programs practicing on site.”