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A Small Town Challenge: Casey Field

By Allen L. Dressler, Director, Covington Parks and Recreation






The facility has an excellent field lighting system, with no shaded areas in the field of play for either football or baseball games. The original lighting system is housed on wooden poles and a crane is used to change the individual bulbs, which are controlled manually, rather than via computer as is the case for other nearby sports parks.


Located in the small community of Covington, Va. (population 6,303), Casey Field is home to the Covington High School Cougars and the Covington Lumberjacks. The Cougars participate at the Single A level in the Virginia High School League Athletic Association while the Lumberjacks play in the Wooden Bat Valley Baseball League, which is sanctioned through the NCAA and supported by Major League Baseball. Casey Field serves athletes both as a football and baseball facility, thus creating the difficult maintenance challenge of caring for a multi-use playing surface.

Organized athletic competitions have been played at Casey Field for 45 years.






With accommodations for over 4,000 spectators, the baseball diamond at Casey Field in Covington, Va. is generally regarded as one of the best playing surfaces in Virginia. From mid-February through early August, the baseball portion of Casey Field is used practically seven days a week for practice and games.


Baseball games were first played in the spring and summer of 1962 as the facility was prepared for sports use, after being used as a brick tannery and landfill. The first high school football games were played Friday, September 7, 1962. The Boston Red Sox had a Rookie League Team at Casey Field in 1967 and the Houston Astros had a Class A farm club team from 1968 through 1976 as well. The playing surface on the football field and baseball diamond is generally regarded as among the best in Virginia.

The Kentucky bluegrass is mowed five times per week at an approximate 2-2 1/2 height cut during baseball season and in June, post-emergents are applied to control the crab and goose grass infestations on the turf's surface.

Facility

The facility has a field lighting system with absolutely no shaded areas in the field of play for either football or baseball games. The home side of the stadium is constructed from steel beams and concrete with fiberglass, bleacher style seating capable of accommodating 4,000 spectators. The home side of the stadium includes a press box area at the top, which accommodates a P.A. announcer, spotters, the clock operator, radio stations, film crews and assistant coaches for both the home and visiting teams. Beneath the stadium are men's and women's restroom facilities plus locker rooms for both the home and visiting teams. Locker rooms consist of open-air lockers with a lock box for valuables, shower facilities, restrooms, a tape room, private offices for coaches and a washer and dryer in the home team locker room. The visiting side bleachers are aluminum and are transported to just beyond second base for football season. When football season is complete, the bleachers are transported to behind home plate for baseball season. Seating capacity is 1,500.

There are two concession facilities, one on the home side and the other, which includes men and women's restroom facilities, is located on the visitor's side. This concession facility also provides accommodations for those in attendance at baseball games.






Often, the amount of constant practice and play creates special problems, particularly with those participants who get bored with practice and decide digging holes will keep them occupied. These specific areas as well as the sidelines and the areas where the bleachers sit during football season are over seeded with a combination of Kentucky bluegrasses and solar turf blankets are used to encourage seed germination during the winter months through a greenhouse-like affect.


Casey Field is used from mid-February through early August for baseball and from mid-August through November for football. The baseball portion of Casey Field is used practically seven days a week for practice and games.

At the conclusion of the high school season in late May, the facility is provided for the Covington Lumberjacks, American Legion Baseball, Little League and hosts a number of sanctioned weekend tournaments. In addition, baseball camps are hosted and the Wellsville New York High School baseball team arrives for their annual spring break trip to Virginia. The Lumberjacks' season will conclude around mid-August and the first high school football game is scheduled the last Friday in August, thus allowing about two weeks to transition the athletic playing facility from baseball to football. In addition to high school, junior varsity and varsity games, Casey also serves the youth league football program.






The challenge of caring for a multi-use playing surface reaches its peak during the period when the field is transitioned from baseball to football. During the span of about two weeks, the visiting side bleachers, which have a seating capacity of around 1,500 must be disassembled. Axles fitted to rubber tires are used to move the bleachers, which are taken apart in sections and relocated to just beyond second base for the beginning of football season.


Maintenance

Since Casey Field is a multi-use sports facility, this in itself presents a maintenance challenge. The amount of constant practice and play creates special problems, particularly with those participants who get bored with practice and decide digging holes will keep them occupied. In addition, each fall and early spring, the sideline areas need repair as well as the area where bleachers sit during football season. These specific areas are over seeded when football is complete and turf blankets are used to encourage seed germination during the winter months. This has proven a successful approach to the maintenance of Casey Field.

As is the case with most athletic field managers, generally work has to be scheduled around those who are playing on the field. A very intense and professional turf management program is maintained. Fertilization and pesticide applications are scheduled for an "off day" of facility use and over seeding, which is performed twice in the spring and twice in the fall, is completed before afternoon practice begins. The athletic playing areas are irrigated with an in-ground hydraulic Toro irrigation system.






An in-ground hydraulic Toro irrigation system waters the turf in the evenings and throughout the night when the fields are vacant and recently a new 10-foot high chain-link fence was installed around the perimeter of the field. Due to its location near the Appalachian Mountains, Casey Field is also surrounded by a variety of maple and oak trees that are pruned annually with the help of a lift truck supplied by the Department of Public Works.


Work must be scheduled around those who are using Casey Field. Fertilization and pesticide applications are scheduled for "off-days" of facility use and core aeration and over seeding, which is performed twice in the spring and twice in the fall are completed before the afternoon practice begins.

In closing the same five individuals, who care for Casey Field, are also responsible for an additional 150 acres of parks and playgrounds including 10 other softball and baseball fields. The Parks and Recreation staff also cares for the grounds around municipal buildings and the care of seasonal flowers and landscape plantings throughout the City limits.

Casey Field was recognized by the Sport Turf Managers Association (STMA) in 1997-1998 as High School Football Field of the Year. Since that time a 75-acre multi-use recreation/sport complex has been developed that consists of five softball fields, tennis, soccer, basketball and playground areas. Strong emphasis has been placed on using quality athletic facilities for promoting recreation tourism in the community.

Beginning March 3 through November 3, athletic tournaments are scheduled every weekend with national sanctioned organizations. The City of Covington Parks and Recreation Department though small in numbers is Big on Pride and when spectators and athletes visit the facilities, the manicured and well defined fields truly reflect the effort.



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May 19, 2019, 8:25 am PDT

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