Is grass greener on other side?
Hammer studies, discusses
FieldTurf with St. Louis' Tengan
June 8, 2002
HONOLULU – They say the grass (or FieldTurf) always looks greener on the other side of the fence.
Problem was, here I was on the St. Louis campus on a Saturday morning, but, where was the fence? The fence surrounding the football field that is. You gotta find the fence before you can find St. Louis' football practice field that just so happens to have the hottest debated turf this side of the Pacific Ocean.
With all the finger pointing, various Hawaii leader intervention, consultant's reports, cost analysis, questions on projected maintenance expenditures, questions about having concerts on the turf, the June 13, 2002 upcoming meeting, eh, ‘nuff of all this analysis paralysis, let's just take off the shoes and just find out what this FieldTurf stuff is really about.
I was lost. Made my way to a permanent map of the St. Louis campus. Silva rifle range, Gelber field house, McCabe Gym, but, nothing, nothing that said football field. Hey, this looks like the shape of the football field, this has got to be it. I walk thru a dirt rock road and finally, there it was, the fence surrounding the St. Louis football practice field. Is the grass (or FieldTurf) really greener on the other side of the fence?
Wow, from a distance it was really nice to see. I looked for an entry point in the fence and just looked at what was happening there on the football field. There was a bunch of older guys on the field. Everyone but two were gathered together. They had a football. Hey, did they start a Makule (Senior) Football League or what? (I later found out that the older gentlemen were rookie football officials in training). I looked at the ground in front of me at the entry point of the football practice field and saw what looked to be artificial grass (kinda like artificial hula skirt grass). This doesn't look very good. It looked kinda cheap looking. I run my fingers thru, pull up the edge. Looks like fake grass sewed into a plastic matting. Later on in the morning I found out that this was the basic matting and fake grass implants before all the sand and rubber fillers were layered and the process was completed. I began walking toward the football field and then one of the two gentlemen who was not with the bigger group began walking towards me. Oh, oh, am I gonna get evicted?
I wave and say Howzit. "I'm helping Paul Honda do some writing for the Rainbow Sports Network and wanted a first hand look at the FieldTurf". Just the mention of Paul Honda and doors just seem to open up. "Paul Honda, yeah, yeah, I know him. I'm Delbert Tengan," he said.
"Delbert Tengan, football and basketball head coach? Congratulations, nice to meet you," I said. Of all people to bump into, Delbert was the person to talk to about FieldTurf.
Before I knew it Delbert was very graciously giving me answers to questions that I didn't even have time to think of or ask. This was going to be St. Louis' second full year with the FieldTurf. The installation process at St. Louis began three years ago in late May and was completed in mid August 1999. The preparation of converting the old Crusaders' grass field began with preparation of the grounds first. Once the surface was prepared the FieldTurf people (two employees from FieldTurf plus six contracted locally) took about two weeks to complete the job. The installation of FieldTurf on the St. Louis field and in Hawaii for that matter began with a football clinic Delbert attended a few years back in Nebraska. Coach Osborne had previously been approached by the FieldTurf folks who sold him on it. Osborne was not totally sold at the time and had FieldTurf installed in one of the Cornhuskers' indoor football practice field. The results were so positive that Osborne had the Nebraska football stadium installed with the new technology, FieldTurf. Tengan at the Nebraska clinic spoke to former St. Louis High School players like Dominic Raiola about the benefits of FieldTurf. Delbert came back to Hawaii and after discussions with then head football coach and athletic director Cal Lee made a pr