High school sports Brookfield set for night games after new lights approved
There will be games played under the lights at Brookfield High after all, and not just for football.
After storms that devastated the entire area knocked out wooden poles that housed the lights over the Bobcats’ pristine turf field in May, the town’s Board of Finance recently approved building new metal poles across the stadium, a cost that wasn’t entirely covered by insurance.
The board approved $45,000 to be spent on the metal poles as part of a of $200,000 increase in the general public repair budget. Construction will likely begin in the next few weeks and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the field will be ready to host night games for soccer and field hockey in September, Athletic Director Stephen Baldwin said.
“(The fields) are a big part of the community, and thank God we just had such great parent support,” said Baldwin, who attended the meeting. “I don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t. I have a tremendous support system to superintendent all the way down. Everyone works hard with the kids in mind.”
The storms caused considerable damage to the complex and created a scheduling nightmare for multiple spring teams in the middle of their seasons. Local roads were impassable for several days and power took more than a week to come back in some spots. Lights were ripped off the stadium and one of the wooden poles was completely separated from the ground and crashed over the away bleachers, leaving glass and debris everywhere.
The cross country trail is still in doubt heading into the fall, as fallen trees still littler the route.
“It was like a war zone,” said Bobcats football coach Rich Angarano, who lives close to the school. “It was pretty devastating; it was an eye-opener to say the least but, in all honesty, when you think about the devastation we were fortunate that not a lot of lives were lost.”
The initial plan was to rebuild new wooden poles, but that would have meant the school’s soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams having to play all their games only under sunlight. Brookfield conducted a light test last year and determined the field would be unsafe for those sports under the old configuration.
“It was great to see the process,” Baldwin said. “It was great to see so many people realize we were working for the best interests of the town and the student-athletes. It was also great to see the back-and-forth and how well the money is managed. Being on the Board of Finance is a very difficult job.”
Baldwin added that all four students who spoke at last month’s graduation cited the importance of the fields — three of the four played sports — and the memories that were made on them. The fields are run by the town’s Park’s and Rec department and the plan to construct metal poles was a collaborative effort.
The field will likely look more polished than ever when teams kick off in the fall. A new press box will be installed along with the improved lighting.
“It’s one of the most beautiful venues in the state, and of course I’m biased,” Angarano said. “To think we’ll have state-of-the-art lights, getting a press box and new goal posts — it’s going to be beautiful. And it’s great that every single student-athlete, whether it’s soccer, field hockey or lacrosse, will be able to play under the lights. It will be great to see.”