With the installation of synthetic turf on the Carmel High School athletic field back in 2014 and the addition of new aluminum bleachers earlier this school year, the sports stadium has come to exude a very different look than it did a mere three and a half years ago. Many athletes are satisfied with the stadium and game-day turnout.
But what do students desire most for the field? Stadium lights.
Hypothetically, stadium lights would solve a rather long list of problems regarding field use, as well as encourage higher student attendance at athletic events. During seasons with multiple sports, the competing teams must split practice time on the field—such as football and field hockey—who share the venue during the fall. Lights would help solve some of the conflicting practice times, notes sophomore varsity field hockey player Julianna Smith.
“Lights would allow us to practice later and for a longer period of time,” Smith indicates.
Senior football player William Lund points out that stadium lights would also allow football games to be rescheduled, freeing up more practice time for all teams.
“There could be Friday night games so that there could be possible practices [for other sports] on Friday afternoons,” suggests Lund, who notes that the current system allows only one team to practice on the field each Friday.
The biggest problem currently looms during the winter season, when four teams—varsity and JV soccer for both girls and boys—struggle to find adequate practice time before the sun sets around 5 p.m. Lights, many winter athletes note, would allow all four teams more time to practice on a superior field.
Senior soccer player Zoë Patterson emphasizes that stadium lights could also compensate for parents’ needs, as many of them cannot regularly attend games at the times they are currently scheduled.
“I know for lots of parents it’s hard to get to the high school at 3:30 to watch a game, due to their work schedules,” Patterson says.
Lund, who also plays lacrosse in the spring, argues that stadium lights would alleviate similar schedule conflicts during the spring. Although daylight does not pose as large of a problem at this time of year, lacrosse cannot practice at the same time as track, so again, stadium lights could allow both teams to practice on the same day.
Lights might also enhance the overall unity of the athletic programs, according to Patterson.
“Due to the [junior varsity] team playing at the middle school and us playing at the high school, there’s a big disconnection between the two teams,” the senior striker notes. “Most of the time we only ever see JV on the bus to away games.”
With lights, however, Patterson believes this divide could be solved by the two teams practicing and playing at the same venue on a regular basis.
From another perspective, many students believe that stadium lights would lead to a significant increase in the overall atmosphere and student enthusiasm. Junior Rachael Carroll, who plays clarinet in the CHS pep band, speaks particularly of football and the idea of the band playing at night instead.
“More people come to night games,” Carroll says. “There’s a better crowd [to play for].”
Sophomore percussionist Jacob Matiyevsky adds that this larger crowd could generate more enthusiasm and involvement in the pep band, and senior class president Junna Saito reiterates this projected upward trend in enthusiasm.
“Attendance will go up because that’s when all the hype happens,” Saito says. “At night.”
Senior Sports Medicine president Jenna Fenstermaker stresses that more Sports Med students would be willing to volunteer their time for a football game after school, rather than having to give up an entire day for a Saturday afternoon game. This would signify a larger staff available for treating athletes.
As for athletes, lights might make a significant difference in their excitement of playing on the field. For instance, senior Ben Weber, who plays varsity soccer, comments on the drastically different atmosphere of the CHS field compared with other venues.
“It’s always fun to go to other schools and play under the lights,” Weber suggests. “And then coming home and playing without them is a bummer.”
Yet the road to installing stadium lights, despite massive student support, has proven to be quite difficult.
“There’s a long chain of command and it’s a long process,” Saito admits. “[Stadium lights] aren’t at the top of the list, so [the district] never gets around to it. There are so many other priorities.”
However, Saito believes that CHS may be closer to attaining them than ever before. The key to stadium lights, she claims, is continued pressure from students demanding a change.