The St. Joseph-Ogden High School soccer team is set to have a new home field for the 2023 season.
SJO Superintendent Brian Brooks said the school’s construction plan calls for field turf to be installed on the current football field next summer, allowing football and soccer to share the field.
“Both football and soccer can play there safely,” he said.
The district will also create a practice field that both soccer and football can use.
Currently, the district has an intergovernmental agreement with the village of St. Joseph, allowing them to play at Woodard Sports Complex.
SJO Athletic Director Justin Franzen said the district is pleased with the agreement.
“We are very happy that village allows us a place to practice and play,” he said. “The agreement stretches all the way back to 2009 when SJO implemented soccer, and we have a great partnership with the village and want to keep that great partnership moving forward.”
On Tuesday, parents of SJO soccer players attended a village board meeting and said the village is not upholding their end of the agreement with maintenance.
Jim Page, speaking on behalf of the parents, said a spontaneous hot air balloon event held at the park last Sunday night caused damage to the field by leaving tire tracks from vehicles and golf carts.
Page described the event, which was sanctioned by the mayor, as “disrespectful and thoughtless.”
The intergovernmental agreement says no other organization will use the field during the pre-approved scheduled soccer season. The season includes practices, games, tournaments, clinics and other special events. The agreement, however, does state that during unscheduled activities, the village can use the field as long as they respect the conditions of the field.
Page said the parents feel the field is not being maintained and that the village is “apathetic” to the high school soccer program.
St. Joseph Public Works Superintendent Mike Peters said the school district has not communicated when the team is practicing or when the season starts and if they knew that they would water the field.
The intergovernmental agreement states the school district must provide a written general schedule of games and practice times 30 days prior to their playing seasons. Once the village reviews the schedule, the program will then have exclusive use of the field for all the times listed on the schedule.
Page said the parents want a professional hired to maintain the field because he said the village workers “have no idea what you are doing.”
“The school is not without blame,” Page said. “They have dropped the ball and should be over here saying, ‘Hey, fix the field.’”
The intergovernmental agreement calls for the village to provide “manpower and some resources to construct and maintain sports facilities and parks.”
The high school provides the personnel to staff, organize, plan and administer the program. The district also agrees to help offset the cost of the facility maintenance, repairs, electricity and any other costs associated with facility use. The agreement also said the village will maintain, “as available resources allow all turf areas on the field to include mowing, weed control, fertilizing, herbicide spraying and irrigation where available.”
The agreement goes on to state that the village and the high school know the field needs a comprehensive maintenance program and the village provides certain services that are within their budget and staffing. The high school agreed to supplement maintenance with either materials, funding, or other resources.
Franzen said he, the village and coaches keep a good eye on the field both during the season and in the offseason.“We all work together to continuously improve conditions each year,” Franzen said. “I know this is obvious, but we need a lot of rain right now, and I hope we get it soon so that conditions improve for soccer this fall. We are excited to start soccer season.”
The soccer fall kick-off is set for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 at the St. Joseph Community Park.
Brooks said the high school is happy with the current agreement with the village.
“We appreciate that the village has been open to allowing our soccer program a place to practice and play since the year we started soccer back in 2009,” he said. “We are very thankful for their support of our soccer program.”