Rutherford County High Schools Embrace Synthetic Turf for Football Fields

Feb 22, 2024 at 12:07 pm by WGNS News

The latest team to see fundraising for artificial turf is the Rockvale Rockets (far left photo of American flag field)


CORRECTED and UPDATED: Rutherford County, TN - In a move signaling a significant upgrade to sports facilities across Rutherford County, several local high schools have invested in state-of-the-art artificial turf for their football fields. The transition to synthetic surfaces not only promises enhanced playing conditions but also reflects a broader commitment to modernizing athletic infrastructure within the community.


The trend of installing astro turf's in Rutherford County started with Blackman High School with the Rutherford County School Board approving the construction of the school's new turf in 2018. The field was then installed over the winter. Donations and commitments for field advertising covered the entire cost. More importantly, the new artificial turf was installed in honor of a life long resident of the Blackman community.

Looking back to the inaugural game on Blackman's brand new turf, which took place in August of 2019, the Blaze took-on the Alcoa Tornadoes, from Alcoa High School in Alcoa, Tennessee. But there was much more to that game than who the Blaze played... because a local servant to the community was remembered and honored that night.

Bart Smith, who grew up in the Blackman Community, served the United States in Vietnam under the Army's 25th Infantry division. He then returned home and enrolled in the Tennessee law enforcement academy. After graduation, Smith was employed for 20 years at the Murfreesboro Police Department. Later, he begin another career that at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office when he spent another 20 years. Not to mention, Smith was also a school bus contractor for the Rutherford County Schools for over 40+ years. And it was the late Bart Smith who was remembered for his years of service to his country and his community in August of 2019, which was when the first game was played on Blackman's brand new artificial turf - - that was named Bart Smith Field.

Oakland High School was the second school to follow the trend in 2019. Like Blackman, the Rutherford County School Board had to give their nod of approval before the installation of a new turf could happen, even though the synthetic turf was being paid for by donations. Following suit, Smyrna High School continued the excitement in 2022, thanks to the generous support of Smyrna Ready Mix (SRM Concrete), which single-handedly funded the new turf for the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, cross-town rival Stewarts Creek High School joined the ranks of schools with artificial turf installations in the same year, further underscoring the growing popularity of synthetic surfaces among local sports programs.

Siegel High School, home to the Siegel Stars, embraced the trend just before the 2023 season, joining other schools and reaping the benefits of artificial turf technology. Now, Riverdale High School is poised to become the sixth Rutherford County school to adopt synthetic turf, with plans underway to install the new field ahead of the 2024 season.

With an estimated cost of $900,000, the artificial turf at Riverdale High School will be funded through private donations, with multiple benefactors already stepping forward to contribute to the project. The school aims to provide its athletes with top-notch facilities while fostering a sense of community pride through the enhancement of its sports amenities.

Rockvale to be the Next to Have New Turf: The latest addition to the roster of schools embracing artificial turf is Rockvale High School, where plans are in motion to install a unique patriotic field paying tribute to the men and women who have served the country. Proposed as an American flag-inspired turf, the field's design aims to evoke a sense of national pride and patriotism, offering spectators a visually inspiring backdrop as they cheer on the Rockets.

The efforts there are being headed up by Principal Steve Luker, football coach Brian Guthrie and many others. Chad Degnan, a teacher at Rockvale and retired First Sergeant from the US Army, has expressed his excitement for the project, emphasizing the school's deep-rooted connection to military history. With efforts underway to raise the necessary funds, Rockvale High School could soon become the first football team in Tennessee to boast an American flag football field, further solidifying the community's commitment to honoring its heritage while providing top-tier athletic facilities for its students.

Again, if all goes as planned, it appears that Rockvale High School will be the first high school football team to have astro turf that resembles the American flag. 

It's crucial to understand that the transition to synthetic turf for football fields represents more than just a change in playing surface. In each instance, at every high school where a new artificial turf field has been installed, community members, including parents and supporters of local schools, have pooled their resources to donate funds. This collective effort reflects their dedication to providing student-athletes with a high-quality playing field they can take pride in.


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