Parents want practice football field replaced at Cascade
EVERETT - Gretchen Weiss-Elliot is a proud Cascade Bruin, but she is one of many Cascade parents who want a new football practice field because they argue the current one is unsafe.
Last fall, Everett School District officials determined the Cascade football practice field was safe. After parents and players began coming to Everett School Board meetings, district officials reopened the question on the field’s safety.
The same parents also criticize the district for spending millions on a long-planned new administration building while not acting on requests to immediately upgrade the field.
“There has not been any issues raised about safety in the eight years I’ve been with the district,” athletic director Robert Polk said last week.
Polk hasn’t heard any safety complaints from parents, players or his coaching staff about the field. The coaches complained “sparingly” about the field, and their complaints were about ruts, Polk said.
The district’s insurance pool has raised no concerns about the field, either, district officials said.
Because of parent concerns, Polk is conducting an analysis of football injuries on the field. The analysis will look at the last five years. The report is expected to be done this week, but the report itself won’t necessarily trigger a closure of the field.
There’s no immediate need to replace the field, Polk said. The field was replaced in 1991 when most of Cascade High School was replaced, and small improvements were made in 2000. Fields are supposed to last 30 years, Polk said.
The district estimates it would cost $1.6 million to replace the field with artificial turf. The money for a new field could be included in a future bond.
“It’s a wish, it’s a dream” to replace it now, Polk said.
Parents vigorously fought for new tracks at Cascade and Jackson high schools last fall. That request was approved for $2 million, but parents say the field needs equal consideration.
Polk questions why field complaints are coming up now after the football season ended, declining to speculate on the parents’ motives.
Parents and students said the field’s condition puts Cascade players at a disadvantage. In December, head coach Nick Clovsky resigned after another losing season.
To Bruin alumni who remember Cascade’s glory years, the state of Cascade football is disgraceful.
“We need to be competitive with these schools,” Cascade parent Crystal Guicide said last month.
The Bruins, like all other Everett high school football teams, play their games at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
About a dozen parents and students came to the Feb. 28 board meeting with recent photos of the field’s condition.
Polk’s seen the photos and said they misrepresent the field’s condition. They were taken when the field was swamped with water after January’s snowstorms. Other photos show deep ruts, which district officials point out were caused by vandalism.
Shortly after the January snowstorm, vandals drove their cars on the field, creating ruts throughout, district officials said. The district closed off access to an adjacent parking lot in response.
“If you look at it, it might not be the best in the world, but if you came out in August (when football practice starts), it looks different,” Polk said.
The field is safe enough for the javelin throwers who currently use the field, Polk said.
Nathan Elliot, 16, would likely be on Polk’s injury report. He broke his tibia and rolled his ankle after a lineman fell on him because of a rut in the field, he said. The injury put him out for weeks.
“It’s just not safe,” Weiss-Elliot said of the field.
If she could, she would send both her kids to Snohomish’s recently built Glacier Peak High School “in a heartbeat.”
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published March 14, 2012