SOUTH FORSYTH — Youth sports are no longer limited to ninth- through 12th-graders at Lambert High School, thanks to an agreement between Forsyth County’s government and school system.
Parties involved in bringing an artificial turf field to the school on Nichols Road gathered on the 30-yard-line Monday to mark its official opening.
Under the deal, which was reached in 2015, the county was responsible for renovating an upper practice field at Lambert. In exchange for installing the artificial turf, the Board of Education has allowed the county to use the field for public recreation after high school athletics practice.
Drew Ferrer, Lambert’s athletic director, said artificial turf is beneficial to optimizing practice time.
“You don’t have as much time lost to rain and weather. There aren’t as many issues with upkeep and sod getting torn up as you do on grass,” he said.
Justin Jean-Felix, a senior at Lambert, said it will be nice to have access to a field he can play lacrosse on even if “the weather is not what we want it to be.”
Brady Berman, also a Lambert student, said he and Jean-Felix have dedicated their high school careers to playing lacrosse and intend to play in college, so the more opportunities to practice the better.
They both have younger siblings who will also use the field.
Jean-Felix’s younger brother, a junior, is also on the lacrosse team. Berman’s sister will enjoy the field as a Lambert student, while his younger brother intends to use it when he reaches high school.
He said it is convenient to have a field everyone can play on so close to home.
“We have an excellent practice area for us, but we also have it for daytime use, PE classes if we need it,” said Gary Davison, Lambert’s principal. “I like having kids on the campus all day. It just makes for a better culture around your school. It’s just a win-win.
“I want these little guys playing on this field and wanting to come to Lambert High School. I want them to want to be Longhorns from the time they’re kindergarteners on.”
Davison said a scoreboard and possibly bleachers are yet to come and that parents have helped lobby for the field and to get it lighted.
“What better way to teach students about government than to show them government entities working together to accomplish a goal?” he said.
Commissioner Brian Tam, whose District 2 encompasses Lambert, said having public school and recreation amenities so close together should add to nearby property values.
“This is the way it’s supposed to be,” Tam said. “You have a state-of-the-art practice field and a recreation center across the street complimenting an excellent high school.”
The project took three or four years, said Kristin Morrissey, the school board member for District 2.
The county commission agreed in January 2015 to reimburse the school system up to $495,000 for the turf’s installation in a 10-year deal.
At the end of the turf’s life-cycle, the commission can decide whether to replace the field. If it does, the county would be responsible for paying for it, and the 10-year contract would start over.
“The county taxpayers and the school system taxpayers are the same. And with land availability, especially in south Forsyth, and the cost of it, we need to share things more often,” Morrissey said.
“A lot of [kids] do a lot of travel sports, and the more fields we have closer to home, it not only keeps them close to home, but it brings outside people to this county, which is great for economic development. So having facilities like this park here is so much better for the county as a whole.”