Art by Sacha Irick
It’s such well-trimmed green grass that it looks fake. Perfectly manicured, colored as bright as an avocado, just begging to be frolicked on.
Typically it’s occupied by families with small children, students tossing frisbees and club sports teams. But this year, things changed.
Now, no one is allowed to set foot on the field.
If you’re late for class and running from Lovernich to main campus, you’ll have to take the tardy because someone will chase you off the field if you try cutting through it. If you want to play a game of soccer or congregate with friends on a level field, you’ll have to trek down to Alumni Park.
The reason, according to Athletic Director Steve Potts, is that the No. 13-ranked women’s soccer team needs an immaculate field to compete at the highest level. He says field experts have explicitly said, “If you want to make sure the field stays in the shape that a soccer field requires, you have to limit the wear and tear on the field.”
Potts added that it’s especially important to take care of this particular field, since this is the second time that it has had to be redone in two years.
Any remodel, whether it be a basketball court or a house, requires a significant amount of funding. The soccer field is no different. Protecting this field is protecting an investment in a successful program.
There are no immediate plans to restore the public’s access to Tari Frahm Rokus Field, even past the 2014 soccer season, according to Potts.
Although the closure is indefinite, Potts said he sympathizes with the plight of students who want to be able to use the field space. He said he wishes that there could be some way to give students access while also protecting the grass for our renowned soccer team. He said Athletics has conversed with Student Recreation “for several years,” and that they (Athletics) are open to solutions.
However, sympathies don’t make up for the fact that students have been stripped of a central social location.
While it’s true that the condition of Alumni Park is adequate enough for men’s club rugby and men’s club soccer to compete on it, the location is inconvenient. The walk downhill may not be bad, but the hike back up is a struggle. It’s why Pepperdine shuttles exist.
Meanwhile, the location of the soccer field is a campus hub. The sophomore dorms are literally right above it, and Lovernich and Towers hug the parking lot on the other side.
The prime frisbee location is gone. The informal soccer scrimmages are gone. The shortcut to class is gone.
Our soccer team deserves respect and recognition. Soccer deserves a perfect playing surface. Pepperdine students deserve all of that, too.
Pepperdine is a fairly small campus and Seaver College has a modest student body population. Maintaining a community atmosphere is a high priority. At a larger school, it’s fine to leave the soccer field for solely the soccer team, but at Pepperdine, ripping that space away is kind of a big deal.
Potts said he has not personally received any complaints about the field closure. A solid first step is for students and our surrounding community to speak up. If the lack of access bothers you, let it be known — loud and clear. Silence gives the impression that no one cares.
On the other hand, this situation isn’t fully the fault of people who are quietly irritated. Decisions with the potential to cause issues, such as this one, shouldn’t be made without any realistic solutions lined up to counter them.
To ask Athletics to allow the soccer field to deteriorate in the interest of the student body feels wrong. But denying students access to a place to gather and play in the interest of a team accounting for .007 percent of the student body seems unjustifiable. There is no ideal neat and tidy fix. However, two options remain:
1) Eat the field repair fees: Close the field during the season and open it up postseason. The field should be monitored, and there should be conduct rules. If groups of students tossing frisbees throughout the year completely destroys the surface, let it be. Redo the field prior to each season. It’s a costly option, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If the university is willing and able to divvy resources into yearly field touch-ups, it would be the best bet for a solution to appease students and Athletics.
2) Flatten out a new spot: Pepperdine has limited land space, which could make this option near impossible. However, if Pepperdine holds students as highly as athletes, the effort must be made.
Whether it’s access or funding – Pepperdine has a need for green.
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