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South Tampa News

Artificial turf replaces grass athletic fields at Holy Names

BY LENORA LAKE
Special Correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: August 28, 2013 at 08:31 AM

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SOUTH TAMPA – The Rev. Bruce Craig gave thanks to God for grass, trees and nature.

“And then we try to improve it by putting down this beautiful field,” he told guests at a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for two new FieldTurf artificial turf fields at the Academy of the Holy Names.

The Aug. 17 event celebrated the installation of the turf on the softball field and the soccer-lacrosse field at the school, 3319 Bayshore Blvd.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the parent of two girls at the school, participated in the ceremony.

A former college lacrosse player, Buckhorn told several hundred guests: “This is a new chapter in the Academy of the Holy Names history.”

The funds were raised through private donations and surplus in the 895-pupil school's operating budget.

The school, which is coed through eighth grade and girls only in high school, has not released the total cost. However, athletic director Kevin Varagas says it is in “the million dollar range.”

“What it does for our school is it shows our administration and board understand that athletics is an important part of our program,” Vargas said.

The plans for new fields began several years ago.

“When I arrived, I knew we had to do something about the fields,” school President Art Raimo told the guests. “We needed safe, clean and fun places.”

Vargas said they chose the artificial turf because they believe it is safer and it eliminates the need for water and pesticides. It is brushed to clean it, he said.

“In addition the water from rain drains off – and 25 to 30 minutes after a rain, our fields are ready to go,” Vargas said.

The softball team will host multischool tournaments on the softball field and the school will use it in the offseason as a practice facility for other sports.

The soccer field includes lacrosse markings for the middle school boys' lacrosse team. The school will partner with the South Tampa Sticks youth lacrosse league to teach lacrosse skills to interested elementary and high school students. The school also plans to offer it as a sanctioned high school sport in the 2014-15 school year.

“This will make the school more competitive,” Buckhorn said after the ceremony. “The kids will want to come here.”

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