FRUITPORT, Mich. (WOOD) — Playing on muddy fields has been the way of the world for the Fruitport High School football team, but when they take the field against Coopersville Friday night, they’ll play for the first time on turf.

Work crews have spent the last few weeks cutting all of the numbers and hash marks in what is an intricate process to install the new surface. They laid rolls of turf on top of each other, cut out the markings, glued them down, then sewed them in. Despite the tedious installation, it will mean much less maintenance in the future.

Crews work on the new Fruitport High School football field. (September 2022)
Crews work on the new Fruitport football field.

“A grass field and what goes into the maintenance of a grass field, from watering and fertilization to cutting the field, to lining it; there is still some maintenance here, but it’s much more manageable,” Fruitport Community schools Superintendent Jason Kennedy said.

It took years to turn this field from dream to reality. First, the district needed to pass a bond proposal to pay for it and the construction of the new high school. The school also had to work closely with the drainage district and the water resources commissioner in Muskegon County because drainage has been a problem on the property.

Kennedy emphasized that the turf is for recreational activities not limited to sports. Athletics will often share the field with another group that has become used to putting their feet in the mud: the marching band.

The new Fruitport High School football field. (Courtesy Fruitport Community Schools)
The new Fruitport High School football field. (Courtesy Fruitport Community Schools)

“Most competitions are not happening on grass anymore. They’re exclusively on turf,” band director Tim Priest said. “At the end of our season, we’ve been fortunate enough to qualify for MCBA State Finals and get to perform at Ford Field.”

Ford Field in Detroit is turf, so having the ability to practice on the same surface where it will compete will give the marching band an edge it didn’t have in previous years.

If a football game is another type of performance, then those players will also have a new edge:

“The biggest difference is somebody else is trying to stop us from performing well,” head coach Nate Smith said. “They don’t have to fight against anybody else, but yes, it’s very, very similar.”