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New artificial-turf field opens at UMW
UMW opens new recreation field

 Junior Matt Pares fields a ball during the first practice of the UMW club baseball team. The field is constructed of artificial turf and rubberized granules that help it drain.
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Date published: 9/17/2008


The University of Mary Washington women's club soccer team hosted just one home game last year.

But most of their games this season, including ones against the University of Virginia and George Mason University, are scheduled to be played at the Fredericksburg campus.

That's largely because of UMW's new artificial-turf field, where the team has been practicing three days a week since Aug. 29. The former grass field went through a $2.1 million makeover this summer.

"I swear you run faster," said senior soccer player Christine Exley, 21. "Either that or I'm in better shape, but I doubt that's the case."

The team has always practiced at that site but has played its games on a field at the Battleground Athletic Complex on Hanover Street. Men's soccer and two club rugby teams also used the complex's field.

"You can imagine how that was taking a beating," said Mark Mermelstein, director of campus recreation.

The improved 110- by 72-yard field, located at the end of Fitzhugh Street next to the school's parking garage, will be used for intramural and club games and other student activities. Its 12 stadium-style lights are equipped to shine brightest on certain spots, such as soccer goals, Mermelstein said.

It's even waterproof. Rain filters through the field's rubber pellets and sand base and into a drainage system. Mermelstein said it was dry 20 minutes after a storm earlier this month.

"I can tell you we did not have a drop of water on that field," he said. "It was amazing."

In the past, the school had to close the field for days after heavy rains.

A nearby building with restrooms, water fountains and storage space is scheduled to be finished soon.

The club baseball team held its first practice at the field on Thursday, and 13 players showed up. That's a record because the team never really practiced in the past.

Before the scheduled 4:30 p.m. drill, five players stood outside the field's chain-link fence waiting for someone to let them in.

"This is already as good a turnout as we've had for practice," said junior Peter Ceo.

Once they were on the field, a coach asked them to follow three rules: no metal cleats, gum or Gatorade.

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