Seeing a shortstop make a diving stop, only to think he’s lost an arm, is never a good feeling for a coach or player, but that’s exactly what happened last year in a Bruins home game at Cate Field in West Jordan.
D.G. Nelson, head coach for Salt Lake Community College’s baseball team, had long looked at replacing the nearly 20-year-old turf at the Bruins home park. As with anything else in college athletics, it came down to one thing: money.
As more and more safety concerns cropped up during the 2019 season, SLCC Director of Athletics Kevin Dustin and coach Nelson knew it was time to upgrade the failing turf.
“It’s one of those things where costs have come down a little bit and we felt like it was time,” Dustin says. “Because the previous turf had been laid down so well, there wasn’t much to do as far as regrading. We just tore out the old stuff and laid the new turf down.”
FieldTurf can usually be expected to last at least 10 years, with the old SLCC turf nearly doubling that ten-year goal. Nelson aims for this new turf to last just as long or longer.
“Our players still have jobs. We have to maintain it,” says Nelson.
With all the support Dustin and the athletics department has shown, Nelson is committed to holding up his end of the bargain.
“I’ve told our guys; this is better than new carpet in your home. This better be spotless all the time,” says Nelson.
FieldTurf calls this system their “DoublePlay” turf and claim that it plays as close as possible to the real thing. Nelson talked about how his players have been able to adjust to the rubber-sand base mixture depending on what is needed all over the field.
“We use a 70/30 rubber-sand mixture in the infield to keep down hard bounces and increase ball speed a little bit,” Nelson says. He stops short of calling the new turf a home field advantage, saying, “I think our old field was bad enough because it played so fast. We were the only ones that could get used to it. We designed this to play like a real field.”
Bruins supporters will also be able to look for one more improvement at Cate Field during the 2020 season. The school will be replacing the outdated lighting system with new LED lights before the beginning of play next year.