AL HAMNIK: Griffith football joining the 21st Century

2013-07-13T17:15:00Z 2013-07-27T20:41:05Z AL HAMNIK: Griffith football joining the 21st CenturyAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 13, 2013 5:15 pm  • 

GRIFFITH | You don't wear sneakers to a French restaurant.

You don't serve sloppy joes to visiting royalty.

Some things are woefully out of place in the vast network of life and order. Take Griffith football, proud and productive longer than Bruce Willis has made action movies.

But the program's facilities, for lack of a better word, have been embarrassing since high school boys and girls soccer was moved to the fall season years ago.

The Boneyard, as it is fondly referred to, took a real beating and field conditions have gradually deteriorated.

Griffith's adjoining practice field has been all chewed up for years, with bare spots everywhere, and looks like a herd of cattle had just passed through.

A football program with 15 Class 3A and 4A sectional championships, five regional titles, a 4A state title in 1997 and winning seasons in 17 of the last 19, deserves better. Wouldn't you agree?

Griffith school superintendent Dr. Pete Morikis agreed.

"It's about improving the (athletic) program and giving the kids the best we can give them," Morikis said.

"I went to Lowell and can remember playing on Griffith's field. It was like a plush carpet and I loved playing there," added current Panthers' coach Jim Pickett.

"With the state of our field now and how it's deteriorated, this is the right thing to do."

High-fives and chest bumps, everyone.

Griffith is getting Field Turf for the 2014-15 school year as part of an extensive upgrading of its athletic facilities that will also feature new lights at the Boneyard, a softball field with lights, adding lights to the baseball field and improvements to the practice football field.

"The tax impact is minimal," Morikis said. "Anywhere from (an added) $3 a year to $3 a month, depending on the value of your home."

This isn't just about varsity football. No, much more.

"Seventh, eighth, ninth-grade, JV and varsity football use our field," Morikis pointed out. "Plus boys and girls soccer, varsity and JV, and Pop Warner.

"It's time has come."

One good rain or snow and the surface is a swamp.

As with any wish list in school corporations, you must wait your turn based on priorities. With improvements and updates to the town's schools now finished, sports can finally be addressed.

"I never, never, ever would've thought of (Field Turf) because of the cost involved and the state of education being what it is," Pickett said.

"The seniors were a little disappointed when they heard the news, but the younger kids are really excited."

And so should be Griffith fans, students, alumni and friends of the program. This is the new car in their driveway; that winning raffle ticket somebody else always has.

Morikis, in his 10th year as school super, waves off the notion Field Turf will be part of his legacy at the Northwest Crossroads Conference school.

"I love Griffith. We're doing it for the kids," he said.

A new look to the football practice field also is huge for Griffith players who know how shepherds once felt while tending their flocks.

Former coach Les Thornton gave it a nickname, in fact.

"Les used to call that 'The Rock Pile' around '79, I think, when our fieldhouse was built," Pickett said. "It was the construction area where they parked trucks and moved stuff around."

More high schools throughout the region and state are changing over to Field Turf.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

This column solely reflects the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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