High School Athletics: Hays CISD switches to portable turf in time for fall seasons
Thu, 06/16/2016 – 12:29pm Ishmael Johnson
By ISHMAEL JOHNSON
Daily Record Sports
Hays CISD is growing, that’s not news.
What is news is how the school district is dealing with that growth.
With a third high school on the way and limited space for the existing Hays and Lehman High schools, Hays CISD decided to make a proactive move to enhance its athletic facilities.
This spring, the school district partnered with Dollamur Sport Surfaces to install its new portable turf “GymTurf365” at Lehman and Hays High Schools. Dollamur, perhaps more known for wrestling, gymnastics and cheerleading mats, first sent GymTurf365 out for beta testing last spring at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth.
Lehman athletic coordinator and head football coach Todd Raymond helped spearhead the idea after noticing something similar at the University of Houston. It wasn’t exactly GymTurf, but Raymond, who studied Math at Colorado School of Mines, was fascinated with the mechanics involved with a portable turf, especially considering that Lehman could use something similar.
The idea of an indoor facility isn’t exactly the most practical idea for Hays CISD with soon-to-be three Class 6A high schools under its belt.
Raymond saw an ad on FootballScoop.com for Dollamur’s new product and thought, why not?
“San Marcos has their indoor facility, Del Valle’s getting one, Westlake’s getting one, it’s us being the two schools with the third being right around the corner,” Raymond said. “We can say that we’d love one, but for us right now, in order for our district to do that they’d basically have to build three of them. That’s just not realistic in my brain.”
After Director of Student Programs Betsy Russell set up a demo, Hays and Lehman became the latest schools in Texas to roll out the product.
“We are always searching for new ways to enhance our student’s experiences on and off the field,” Russell, said in a press release. “GymTurf 365 allows for greater scheduling flexibility so our athletes experience minimal, if any, conflicts in regards to training and games.”
Lehman disposed of its old mats — that were there long before Raymond took the job in 2012 — to install the turf inside the team’s mat room.
The boys and girls soccer teams were the first to use it this spring and the Lobo marching band and color guard even used it to practice inside one of the high school’s three gyms.
As head football coach, Raymond knows his sport is the least affected by weather and adverse conditions outside of lightning. Soccer plays on turf, so they can occasionally handle some rain, but baseball and softball were some of his biggest concerns.
“The time we need this stuff is January through April when we’ve got boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball, softball all that stuff going on,” Raymond said.
If need be, Lehman has enough to roll out across all three of its gymnasiums.
“It just adds a lot of flexibility to your space especially for us,” Raymond said. “We’re already big, we ended the year between 2,300 and 2,400 kids. Hays is usually 200 more than us and the expectation is we’re going to grow to 200 to 300 kids a year right now.”
The material is favorable to the touch as well and Raymond played on Astroturf and is familiar with the hazards even some modern turfs pose as far as burns go.
“Normally with that other stuff you just lost four layers of skin,” Raymond laughed as he rubbed his forearm along the surface of the mat room.
While Hays CISD is perhaps still catching up to its own rapid growth, Raymond was satisfied to be apart of a forward-thinking decision on behalf of the students.