Jody Victor: This field has felt the touch of Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, withstood the stampede of ecstatic football fans and weathered the snow, the rain, and the summer sun. It is the grass that carpeted the Ohio Stadium and, until last month, its glory days were going to end with the final touchdown of the spring football game. That is, however, until the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department came along and offered to give it a second chance at life.
When Jean Winters, director of development for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, read that Ohio State was removing its sod in favor of a synthetic field she recognized the opportunity to provide the city's youth with first-rate turf. Normally, due to budget restraints, the department uses an inexpensive brand of turf available for youth fields.
Don Patko, Ohio State associate athletic director of facility management whom Winters worked with in arranging the relocation of the sod, agreed the fields are capable of enduring several seasons so long as it is maintained. The decision to donate the turf was a natural choice for the athletic department who also donated the expenses associated with moving it.
Once the deal was finalized, the process of uprooting the sod began following the April 22 spring football game. Due to a sturdy clay-based foundation, the grass was successfully removed in just one day and transferred to both McCoy Park and Driving Park. The sod was split between the two parks to cover one baseball field at McCoy and two at Driving, which are now being enjoyed by summer youth sports teams. McCoy is also the homefield for the Columbus State baseball team.
When the graduating spring class of 2007 takes the field June 10 in the Horseshoe, they will be the first Buckeyes to test the new Field Turf – meanwhile – the former turf will be receiving a test of its own as it provides Columbus youth the foundation needed to become the next generation of Buckeyes.