North Collins’ turf field is in high demand from local colleges, high schools

On Sept. 26, 2009, North Collins unveiled its all-purpose artificial turf field. And since then, the benefits have continued to pay off.

“It’s awesome,” North Collins softball coach Jan Warren said. “It’s a source of pride for us. The kids know it. They respect the fact that they get to play on it. It’s just such an advantage. Same thing goes for the boys.”

Mother Nature has not done any of the spring sports teams any favors this year, making it hard – if not impossible – for them to get outside and run normal practices. That’s not a problem Warren or baseball coach Paul Kellner usually have to worry about.

“It’s a huge advantage,” Warren said. “And I keep telling (the players) that. I’m just happy that we have it. It’s such an advantage, because we’re so fast on it and they know how to play on it. We get to go out there early and we’ve been (outside) more than anyone probably.

“It’s so nice to play on it, because it can rain and 10 minutes later you can be playing on it,” Warren added.

Warren noted, however, that there are still some days when even his team can’t get outside.

“It’s nice to have it,” Warren reiterated. “But here’s the problem, (the weather) has been so bad that even we can’t play. I did talk to Forestville on Friday, and they had only been in the parking lot.”

North Collins, which is just a short drive from Buffalo, has received several calls this spring from colleges looking for a place to play because their fields are still unplayable.

“The last two weekends we’ve gotten calls,” North Collins Athletic Director Kathryn Shelley said. “Whether it’s Fredonia State, or D’Youville … Niagara County Community College and I think maybe Houghton called. There were quite a few (colleges) in our area that have called to use it.

“Beforehand, they are always very appreciative,” Shelley continued. “They realize that it’s a great facility to have nearby for local communities to use.”

The school has even had to tell some teams that they couldn’t use the fields.

“But just because we’ve had to get our games in and our practice times,” Shelley said. “Unfortunately there wasn’t enough turf to go around, but that’s how it is when Mother Nature decides to have it snow in April.”

Warren has had the same problem with his softball team.

“A lot of teams are contacting me that want to have scrimmages and I would love to do it,” he said. “But I can’t, because jayvees and modified are playing on it and I don’t want to boot them off and take games away from them.”

If the weather continues to be as poor as it has been this spring, Warren has a feeling of what is going to happen with his team’s schedule.

“I’ve got a funny feeling, this year especially, the way teams are struggling (to get games in), I think we’re going to play a lot of home games early and travel late,” Warren said.

And when the time comes, like it did in 2011, playoff games may have to be moved to the fields as well. But, as Warren noted, that will come with some resistance.

Resistance that he doesn’t quite understand.

“The only thing is, (Section 6) won’t play on it,” Warren said when it comes to using North Collins for Sectional games. “The coaches don’t want to play on it because they don’t play on it all year. But they’ll use it as a last resort if the weather is bad. Which is silly, because why wouldn’t you want to play at a place where all the hops are going to be true?”

After having the turf fields for the last six seasons, neither Shelley or Warren could ever imagine going back to playing on a grass and dirt field.

“It’s been really great for all seasons,” Shelley said. “Whether it’s soccer in the fall or baseball and softball in the spring. And we’ve had so many activities and so forth on it. It’s really been a great attribute to the community.”