Thanks to a partnership with the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, local organizations, businesses, and community members were able to financially support the campaign to improve Noble Hall Field at the Grand Rapids High School (GRHS). Artificial turf, manufactured by FieldTurf, was installed during summer 2020 and the Nevco video scoreboard for the turf field was erected in spring 2021.
The new, improved field made an immediate impact on our GRHS students. Despite the pandemic, with restrictions on the number of contests and games that could be played, the turf field has been a huge improvement. GRHS physical education classes were held outside on the turf, and the marching band and color guard practiced on the field in pods (to help keep students safe) – and not in the parking lot. Both boys’ and girls’ soccer started their seasons on time, and football kicked off a few weeks later. During the 2020 soccer section tourney, an ice and snowstorm blew in, giving District 318 a crash course on how to best prepare the field for inclement weather in the future.
The cross-country teams utilized the field for stretching and warmups. In the spring, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse had practices and games on the turf. For the first time ever, the track and field teams could practice on Noble Hall Field.
Sports and activities have been on a fairly normal schedule for the past 10 months. The turf has exceeded expectations both in number of uses and events held in the first 6-8 months of full use. If you’ve been to a game or activity with the new scoreboard, you know it’s a fantastic addition. From spring 2021 through the fall 2021 sports season, the field was used over 300 times compared to 30 times in previous years. Graduation for the Class of 2021 was held on the field in May, due to the pandemic, and it was a wonderful ceremony.
In August 2021, when fall sports returned, the field was in use from 8am – 8pm. District 318 was able to hold two double-header soccer section games. Not only did those games bring money into the community through restaurants, shopping, food and gas sales, the soccer teams did not incur travel expenses to attend section games elsewhere. A State quarter-final, 9-man football game was held on Noble Hall Field November 11 during a snowstorm. ISD 318 buildings and grounds crew did a stellar job clearing the snow off the field several times before and during the game so play could continue.
The turf field is viewed as an outstanding facility in our region to host section games and state events. Anne Campbell, District 318 Activities Director, said, “The addition of a turf field has truly been a game-changer for our sports, activities and physical education classes. We can go from one activity to the next, knowing that the lines are still on the field, and that the condition of the field is in great shape and safe for the students to play and practice on.”
Noble Hall Field is now one of the top multi-purpose facilities in the region. The Grand Rapids area has a great reputation for supporting our youth and our community. The Noble Hall Field improvements are just another example of how incredibly this community comes together for the betterment of students.
The Noble Hall Field Improvement Project was a partnership through the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, which has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area a better place to live. For more information, visit our website at www.gracf.org or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.