Billings Field Gets a Makeover

Isabella Daniels, Staff writer

During routine evaluations this past summer, Billings Field was deemed unfit for play. Deep cleanings and evaluations of the fields take place yearly by an independently  licensed company to ensure athlete safety. This past summer, Billings Field (sometimes referred to as the Turf Field) did not meet the standards in place for the turf’s fill, so the field was taken out of commission. This has had widespread impacts throughout the campus, especially when it comes to scheduling sports games and practices.

The field closure impacted fall sports teams in innumerable ways. Since the field could not be used for athletics, the space had tents, chairs and tables where students and faculty could enjoy the warm weather while working, eating, and collaborating outdoors. Teams were unable to practice on the field, creating multiple scheduling conflicts for both games and practices. Joanne Dzama, Director of Upper School Athletics, said that despite these unforeseen interruptions, coaches have been extremely cooperative and understanding throughout the process allowing for a successful fall sports season. Spring teams will experience similar challenges during the beginning of the season and they will need to have flexibility until Billings Field reopens. 

Though the field closure has inconvenienced many sports teams, there have been numerous benefits to the project. The renovations have allowed for immense collaboration between the athletics department, coaching staff, and the Buildings and Grounds Team to make the best decisions possible for each and every component of the field so that many teams will be able to enjoy the space.

Improvements being made during the renovation process include the replacement of the drainage system underneath the field, the addition of dugouts and a patio space next to the breezeway, and of course, brand-new AstroTurf collegiate series turf. According to Mark Clar, Director of Buildings and Grounds, “All the old drainage that diverts the water has been removed because it was obsolete. The new drainage in place now has been upgraded to a much larger pipe dimension to accept and remove water at a larger capacity.” These changes will improve the overall usability of the field. In Addition, there is a new backstop with dugouts and a batter box warm up circle which will allow both the home and away teams to have their own space.

The addition of a patio will provide a space for more spectators to attend games and cheer on our teams. Darren Burns, Associate Head of School, Dzama, and Kevin McDonald, varsity girls softball coach, all expressed that the both the administration and athletics Department are very excited about the upgrades being made all around, and for the reopening of Billings Field so everyone can enjoy it.

As with most construction projects in 2021, MBS was impacted by supply chain issues and initially struggled to source the PVC drainage pipes. Once the PVC pipes were obtained, the main concern became the weather, specifically snow and rain. The project has been impacted greatly by rain, but is still expected to be completed by late April. The plans for the rest of construction include the leveling of the field, the installation of the new turf, and the construction of the new patio.

According to Burns, this construction project is a manageable one, and games and practices are set to resume on campus as soon as when the field reopens. Until then, softball teams will practice off-site at a county field by Twin Oaks Arena, with scrimmages planned to be away during that time. The athletics department is prepared to work through the beginning of the spring season using the invaluable experience gained from working with one less field than usual during the fall season. 

The biggest priority is getting Billings Field back so student-athletes will be able to play on it and enjoy the field as soon as possible.