Kehoe Field an Obstacle Course of Injury Risks
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 03:09
Six years after deeming Kehoe Field unfit for varsity practice, the university is conducting a semester-long study to determine the best way to repair the field, which has deteriorated into a minefield of safety risks.
The preliminary survey will not be completed until the spring, and students who regularly play on the field said that the conditions worsened over the summer.
A large section in the northeast area of Kehoe is torn up, and there are patches of exposed concrete where the artificial turf is missing. The field, which is used for club and intramural sports, has an uneven surface on which twisted ankles are commonplace.
“Large sections of the field are simply unplayable,” said Luke Carter (COL ’14), Georgetown University Student Association undersecretary for athletic affairs and president of Club Ultimate. “Most of the field is not safe to play to the fullest extent.”
Yates Field House allocates a portion of its budget for minor annual repairs, and some renovations will continue this semester.
“These repairs have helped in the past, but now we’ve reached the point when spot repairs cannot realistically mitigate the deteriorated condition of the field,” Yates Assistant Director of Intramurals and Special Programs Tim Smith wrote in an email.
The field, located on top of Yates, is worsening due to structural factors that will eventually require a complete renovation, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Vice President for Facilities and Planning Robin Morey.
“Replacing the field is one thing, but we have an underlying superstructure there that also needs work as well,” Morey said. “We certainly would not want to replace the field without addressing really the reason for the deterioration of the field, which is the structure below.”
Morey said he did not know how much repairs would cost and could not specify a prospective timeline.
Because the field will not be replaced for at least another year, club teams will have to continue practicing on areas that many consider unsafe. Former Athletic Director Bernard Muir decided that Kehoe Field posed too high a risk and was unsuitable for varsity athletics in October 2007, and conditions have worsened since then.
“It is definitely dangerous,” Advisory Board for Club Sports Chair Alex Skarzynski (SFS ’15) said. “I have knee problems, and when we’re on Kehoe, they tend to be a lot more exacerbated and hard to deal with.”
Skarzynski, who is on the club rugby team, said that many of his teammates have also suffered injuries.
Olson, however, said that the field remains safe for recreational use, citing the greater intensity of varsity sports compared to club and intramural sports.
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) is pushing for the university to prioritize club sports.
“Now we have a field which a lot of teams use that has been deemed unsafe for varsity athletics, and yet it is still apparently safe enough for club athletes,” Tisa said. “That’s a contradiction.”
Many club teams alter their playing style on Kehoe due to the field’s conditions. Ultimate Frisbee, for example, does not allow its players to dive — what’s normally a fundamental move in the game. The club rugby team bans contact when playing on the field, and the club lacrosse team has stopped playing on Kehoe altogether.
“Anyone who has just looked at the field knows that it’s not really safe for a lot of those different things,” Carter said.
Smith and Club Sports Advisor Lauren Gagliardi sent out a survey to gauge feedback on students’ use of Kehoe, including any injuries stemming from the field’s conditions. Smith and Gagliardi could not yet specify the implications drawn from the survey’s 1,529 respondents, but the pair plans to use the survey to demonstrate the urgency of repairs to upper-level administrators. Olson has seen the survey’s preliminary results.
“We care about student perspectives [and] we’ve gained a lot of those through this survey,” Olson said. “We are actively pursuing [repairs]. We know it’s an important priority and we’re looking at it in the context of our master planning.”
ABCS has also pushed to hire athletic trainers for club sports teams, but the board was denied GUSA funding last spring. This semester, ABCS is working to begin an athletic training pilot program with funding independent of GUSA.
Tisa, who was in office when the GUSA Finance and Appropriation Committee decided to deny the request for athletic trainers, nevertheless said that trainers for club sports should have been a budget priority.
“When you talk about safety, part of the need for an athletic training program came from the fact that the facilities, including the field on top of Yates, Kehoe Field, are so poor and undermaintained,” Tisa said.