Norwich University Selects Shaw Sports Turf for Sabine Field

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America's oldest private military college selects the industry's premier synthetic turf system.

Since 1958, Sabine Sally has been a silent sentry, keeping watch over the 92-year-old Sabine Field, home of the Cadets of Norwich University.

Sally, the WWII-era M4 Abrams tank, was dedicated to honor the men of Norwich who served in WWII and to alumnus and Medal of Honor recipient James M. Burt. Sally has recently been fully restored and will now maintain her vigil over a new, state-of-the-art synthetic turf playing surface by Shaw Sports Turf.

The field, which will be installed this summer at the nation’s oldest private military college, was funded through donations to the “Bearing the Torch” initiative and provides a much needed addition to the campus.

“One of the biggest reasons we moved to a synthetic turf system was the weather in the Northeast,” said Tony Mariano, Norwich University director of athletics. “For many years our teams have been so late getting out because of the weather. We either had to play the first part of our schedule on the road, cancel games, or switch to a different site. More of our competitors have moved to synthetic turf and our situation just wasn’t fair to our athletes.”

Mariano said Sabine Field was basically used for five home football games each year and that was it. Now, the field will be able to host football, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s lacrosse. The field can also host rugby, events by the Corps of Cadets, the band and intramurals.

The university did a great deal of due diligence before selecting Shaw Sports Turf. In addition to research on and presentations by a number of synthetic turf companies, Norwich officials visited several synthetic turf fields.

During football season, four days after the presentations by the synthetic turf companies, Norwich played Endicott College in Massachusetts. Endicott had just installed a Shaw Sports Turf Legion 46 system for baseball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. While on campus for the football playoff game Norwich officials and coaches visited Endicott’s field and came away impressed. Another of Shaw Sports Turf’s fields at Castleton State College in Vermont was named 2010 Multi-Sport Field of the Year by the American Sports Builders Association.

In January, while attending the American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville, assistant football coach Leo Fanning visited Vanderbilt University, which had just installed Shaw Sports Turf’s Legion 46 system for its football field. Fanning came away impressed, as well.

“It’s always good to hear from others about a product they’ve used and been impressed with,” said Mariano. “We were impressed with what Shaw Sports Turf offered and how they worked with us, so they were the best option for what we needed. This field not only provides us with a recruiting advantage for student athletes, it provides our entire university with a recruiting advantage.”

Mariano also believes that the addition of the turf builds overall support for the school’s athletic programs. In 1997, the school moved its ice hockey facility, from the aging Taylor Arena to the new Kreitzberg Arena, one of the nation’s finest ice hockey facilities. Support for the school’s athletic programs grew as a result and Mariano believes the addition of the Shaw Sports Turf system will provide the same result.

“We’re proud of our involvement with the nation’s oldest private military college and an institution steeped in tradition,” said Joe Kacevich, Shaw Sports Turf Territory Manager. “This will be a field the university can be proud of for years to come and one which will benefit all Norwich students, both Corps of Cadets and civilian.”

Shaw Sports Turf has installed practice and stadium fields on more than 1,000 playing surfaces for all different types of sports and recreational activities, including many major collegiate programs such as Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, LSU and the University of Arkansas.

Shaw Sports Turf’s Legion 46 product features a combination of high-performance monofilament fiber and durable slit film fiber that results in a natural looking surface with the performance, durability and safety needed for collegiate sports fields. The Legion system is engineered with 2.25-inch fibers with a 1.65-inch infill that is a 50-50 mix of sand and rubber.

Engleberth Construction of Colchester will be the general contractor for the project. Construction will begin this summer and will take about eight weeks, with completion of the field in time for the football team to begin preseason practice and Sabine Sally to rally the troops for the 2013 season.

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Todd Britton
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