The installation of FieldTurf at Camp Randall Stadium has drawn rave reviews from just about everyone associated with the Badger football program. From the texture to the absence of skinned up arms and legs, the benefits of the surface are being noticed throughout the program.
However, there are other athletic programs on the UW campus that are also reaping the benefits of the installation of the new turfthe mens and womens soccer teams.
Since the football team will be playing 10 of its 12 regular season games on some sort of artificial surface, the Badgers will be doing most of their practicing inside Camp Randall this season. That opens up the availability of the grass practice field just north of the Stadium for use by the UW soccer teams.
With football getting the FieldTurf in the Stadium and having the use of the McClain (Center) with the FieldTurf on inclement weather days, there wasnt going to be a whole lot of use for the field by the football team, Wisconsin mens soccer coach Jeff Rohrman said. Rather than put it to waste or only use it a handful of days, the administration knew there was a need for us to get a quality practice facility. This kind of fit the bill. Obviously, it wouldnt have gotten done without Coach (Barry) Alvarezs blessing, which were certainly grateful for.
In years past, the Badgers soccer teams needed to make the trip approximately a mile and a half away to the University Bay fields for practice. The trek meant an added inconvenience for student-athletes, coaches and trainers. Being able to practice closer to the Stadium makes the entire practice organization much more efficient.
I think its going to save our whole organization, from sports conditioning, sports medicine, soccer staff and players, about an hour every day, UW womens head coach Dean Duerst said. Theres more here at the McClain Center and Camp Randall Stadium for the athletes in terms of sports medicine, rehab and getting prepared for training.
Rohrman and Duerst concurred that the enclosed environment is much more conducive for teaching than the wide open area that encompasses University Bay fields. Instead of a vast open field, the teams can now practice privately inside a more intimate area that is fenced off and surrounded by a black tarp.
Its a much more contained environment where you really can grab the players attention, Duerst said. Our other training environment was so spread out that it was easy to get distracted. Now it really helps the learning environment that youre trying to create. Its your classroom.
Rohrman added that the grass surface at the teams new practice field is vastly improved from their prior facility where it was more of a challenge to get high quality maintenance since it was open to public use.
The quality of the surface is so much better, Rohrman said. U-Bay was nice because it was a big area, but were getting a pretty good advantage in terms of the quality of the surface here.
Overall, with the advantages of convenience, accessibility and an improved learning atmosphere in hand, the move has been a win-win situation for everyone.
Its making it a better experience for the student-athlete, Duerst said. Thats our mission as a soccer programto have a quality experience for these athletes. Weve just increased that so much that its hard to measure.
I think when recruits come in and see that type of environment where you can contain your training needs with some other support areas, its fabulous.