Before a packed Ross High School stadium Friday, the football team played on an artificial turf field as this rural community celebrated a new era in the school district’s sports history.
Talked about for years but now finally a reality, the new $850,000 field makes Ross the latest area school district to upgrade athletic facilities.
“This night is huge for our community,” said Ross High School Athletic Director Jake Richards as he stood on the brightly colored field prior to the start of game against Monroe.
“Having opening Friday night lights out here on this beautiful field … in front of this great crowd … we’re just thrilled.”
So were the hundreds of fans who tailgated before kick-off with pre-game strategy talk mixing with excited speculation about what an all-weather field will mean not only to Ross’ football squad but to boys and girls soccer, the marching band and all students taking gym classes and now having access to the playing surface.
And the Ross Rams fans left happy as Ross beat Monroe 42-3 to start the season with two consecutive victories.
“My daughter plays soccer and we actually got the first night on the field,” said Ross school parent Ken Uhl.
Every Ross football season in the past had one dreaded opponent the team periodically had to battle – a muddy field after rain soaked the old natural grass gridiron.
“The mud games are no longer,” Uhl said. “We actually have a real field and now all these games will continue to go on and we won’t have any weather issues.”
Now only Butler County’s Madison and New Miami schools still have natural grass sports fields, though Madison school officials have said they are close to reaching full funding for its plastic turf field but not in time for this season’s football squad.
Some area school systems such as Lakota, Monroe and Hamilton are on their second-generation artificial turf fields.
Artificial turf fields range in cost from $500,000 to more than $1 million, and usually last from 10 to 15 years of use.
The costs for Ross’ new field will be almost entirely covered by local industry and individual donations rather than tax dollars, said school officials.
The field is lined for football and soccer, and allow for multi-sport training throughout the year.
Ross fan John Valentine said the “the field is fantastic and it just means so much to the community.”
Sara Herrmann’s son plays center for the Ross Rams. She graduated from Ross Schools and said the district’s high school campus is the centerpiece of the community.
“It means so much to the community. To see this field, it’s so nice,” said Herrmann. “It’s perfect.”