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AstroTurf ordered for Barton ball fields
BCC trustees consider bowling program
BCC Baseball Coach Brent Biggs, left, and Softball Coach Tyler Gunelson listen to Tuesday’s presentation on adding AstroTurf to the fields at Barton Community College. Also pictured is Vice President of Instruction Elaine Simmons. The BCC Board of Trustees approved the $763,500 project. - photo by Susan Thacker

Barton Community College’s baseball and softball teams will be playing on artificial turf next spring, thanks to a contract approved Tuesday by the BCC Board of Trustees.

In order to get started as quickly as possible, the board added a special meeting to its regular study session so formal action could be taken. A contract with Venture Corporation in the amount of $763,500 was approved for the installation of AstroTurf on the entire softball field and on the infield of the baseball field.

While Venture is the general contractor, AstroTurf will be the turf supplier and installer; Eldridge Fencing will be the fence supplier and installer; and Eakin Enterprises will take care of the concrete.

Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs said matching funds have been raised, which means donors will pay half of the cost.

The project will include replacement fencing on the baseball sidelines and relocating the softball fence to meet the required dimensions. The turf carries the industry standard eight-year warranty, but AstroTurf Regional Sales Manager Doug White told trustees Tuesday that it can be expected to last 10 years or longer with proper maintenance and depending on the usage levels. Some high-use areas such as the pitchers’ mounds require more frequent replacement. He gave the example of a baseball field at Wichita State University; after eight years they needed to replace the areas where players slide into first and second base. The price includes some maintenance equipment.

Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman called the purchase “a great opportunity.”

“We have an opportunity here. A number of donations have been identified,” Heilman said. “It could do great things for these two programs to have this enhancement.”

Trustee Mike Minton made the motion, seconded by Don Learned, to approve the contract. The motion was approved by unanimous vote.

With Tuesday’s approval, Venture can begin working within 30 days and the fields may be done by Christmas.

Softball Coach Tyler Gunelson and Baseball Coach Brent Biggs said artificial turf is quickly becoming the norm.

Rolfs said synthetic surface will give Barton a recruitment advantage and allow more scheduling flexibility. “It is a much safer surface for our student athletes and will save the college the annual costs of maintaining the current natural surfaces,” he said. The college will be able to host events in the summer months. 

“It’s only a matter of time before everybody goes to synthetic surface,” Rolfs said, comparing the trend in baseball and softball to that of football, where synthetic turf is now common.

Board Chairman Mike Johnson called the AstroTurf-brand turf an “impressive product” and Rolfs agreed it is “second to none.”

White agreed that artificial turf adds an element of safety but said the real benefit is that it makes for better ball games. “You eliminate bad hops,” he said. “We’re trying to make a cleaner, perfect game.”

Samples of AstroTurf were shown at the meeting.

Bowling could be next BCC athletic program

During the study session, the trustees also heard a proposal to start a men’s and women’s bowling team at Barton next year. This was not an action item but will be on the agenda of the October business meeting.

Other Kansas colleges with bowling are Wichita State, Newman University, Tabor, Kansas Wesleyan, Baker, Ottawa and Cowley College. Cowley started its program last year and is the only other Kansas community college with a bowling program. The NJCAA has 31 men’s bowling teams and 30 women’s teams.

By NJCAA bylaws, the men’s and women’s teams will each be allowed 12 “Letters of Intent,” for a total of 24 student athletes, not counting walk-ons, Rolfs said.

“We have the Walnut Bowl facility in (Great Bend), at what I consider a generous rate, for practice,” Rolfs said. The programs will provide an opportunity for many high school bowlers to compete at the next level while continuing their education.

Barton has added wrestling and swimming programs in recent years and found area interest. New sports programs have also helped recruit students. They key to success with these programs is to find the right coach, Rolfs said.

Trustee Minton asked if adding new sports has had an impact on the budgets for existing sports.

“So far, it has not affected any of our other programs negatively,” Rolfs said.

BCC Trustees meeting at a glance

The Barton Community College Board of Trustees held a special meeting Tuesday and approved a contract to install AstroTurf on the softball and baseball fields. This preceded by the regular board study session. Here’s a summary of topics discussed:

• August financial statement was presented.

• A proposal to add men’s and women’s bowling in 2019-2020 was presented. The administration will ask for approval next month.

• There was an update on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program. Barton now offers a Associate in Applied Science degree in this area, along with industry-recognized certificates.

• The features of Maxient student conduct/case management software were discussed.

• Enrollment management was discussed.

• The board heard a presentation on the artificial turf proposal.