Michigan is known to have unpredictable and extreme weather, especially in the fall. To student-athletes on campus, it’s just a part of life. They can’t control the weather, and they can’t always cancel a game just because it’s raining. However, rain can cause more issues than just discomfort.
Two weeks ago the women’s soccer team had to play their game on the artificial turf on the Bahlke field instead of Scotland Yard where they usually play. The rain had flooded the field and it was deemed unfit for a game of soccer.
“We would have torn [the field] up,” said Sarah Dehring, Associate Athletics Director at Alma College, “The men’s soccer team had played on it the Saturday and Sunday before that so we just wanted to let it recover.”
The soccer teams weren’t the only ones affected by the inclement weather. It rained so much that there was standing water on fields all throughout Gratiot County.
“We even hosted the St. Louis homecoming football game on the turf (…) because their football field was underwater,” said Dehring.
Playing on the turf instead of grass is a pretty major change, and it isn’t always a welcome one. Many athletes, especially soccer players prefer to play on the grass. “I personally like playing on the grass better because I can actually slide tackle,” said Benjamin Briegal (23), a player on the men’s soccer team.
“A lot of players are afraid to slide tackle on turf because the turf burn hurts a lot,” said Briegal.
Whether or not the players enjoy it, playing on turf is a different experience—especially in the rain.
“Grass fields aren’t perfectly flat,” said Briegal, “The field floods a bit and there are puddles. If the ball gets into one of those puddles, it’ll just stop.”
The turf fields, on the other hand, have the opposite problem.
“It’s totally different. Especially when it rains, the ball skips really fast and it’s very predictable,” said Briegal.
In anticipation for those differences, soccer teams need to make a lot of preparations. The field needs to be painted with lines for a soccer field, and the soccer teams have to practice on a turf field to familiarize themselves with it.
“Anytime they’re scheduled to play on a field that they know has turf they’ll schedule some practices on the turf, and before [the women’s soccer team] played last Friday they practiced on the turf as well,” said Dehring.
Despite all the complications the women’s soccer team faced, the game on the turf was well received by the coaches and players. So well received that it might have started a new tradition for the women’s soccer team.
“Honestly it was a really great atmosphere out on the turf under the lights,” said Dehring, “It’s probably something we’ll look at doing once a year in the future.”