It's been a tough spring and early summer for grass.
Because of the lack of rain, most yards and fields are more brown than green.
Fleming Field in Shadyside hasn't been exempt even though the school has watered the field consistently.
SHADYSIDE’S Fleming Field received a new irrigation system Saturday thanks to the work of many volunteers. The project was oversaw by 1982 Shadyside High graduate Chris Dimmick, who works for Rain Bird Corporation. Pictured are former Shadyside High Athletic Director Gary Cunningham (left) and current athletic director John Triveri.
A crew of some 20 workers and volunteers were at the field Saturday, which was one of the hottest days of the year to date, to help install a permanent sprinkler system into the field.
It's been a long time coming for the system. Gary Cunningham, who recently stepped down as Tigers' athletic director, originally looked into the idea several years ago and within the last six or seven months, the project became a reality again as the Shadyside Sports Foundation, which aids the school with capital improvements to sports facilities, became active once again and decided to take on the project.
"The Sports Foundation basically went dormant after we finished (the work on) the baseball field," said Sports Foundation President Doug Campbell. "I got a call from (Superintendent) Terry (Brinker) that they wanted to start it back up, so we sent out some stuff and the last four or five meetings we've had 15 or so people, so it's been a good turnout."
The Sports Foundation, which holds a reverse raffle in December as its main fundraiser througout the year and has added an additional fundraiser called "Pick 29", had money in the bank and the group wanted to get started back up again with a impactful project.
"We wanted to do something good and get our name out there again," Campbell said. "So, I sent out an email to some folks with things we've discussed and we asked them to prioritize. It was pretty overwhelming that the first thing they wanted to do, along with staying within our budget, was this sprinkler system."
The project, which lasted for nearly 12 hours, was oversaw by Shadyside High School Class of 1982 graduate Chris Dimmick, who works for the Rain Bird Corporation, which is based in California.
"We'd been talking about this project for about three to five years and finally things came together this year," Dimmick said. "We were able to get a team of people together, I pulled together the resources and here we are."
Nearly 2,000-feet of pipe was installed on Fleming Field in 12 different sections. Each section has its own sprinkler head and it'll run independently of each other.
"We can only run three to four sprinkler heads at one time based on the water supply that we have," Dimmick said. "Each sprinler head will run between 30 or 40 minutes per cycle to get the amount of water needed down."
According to Dimmick, the Rain Bird Corporation has oversaw "literally thousands of sports field complexes from high school to colleges to professional venues."
Dimmick was able to donate some of the materials and time needed, which he was proud to do for his alma mater.
"It's great to be able to give back and help the kids," Dimmick said. "It's really been a hot, dry summer, but when they come out to play football this fall, the field should be in great condition ready to go."
In years' past, Fleming Field utilized a water reel, which came down the middle of the field and spread water in a circle.
Campbell credits Eric Krupa for "bringing the field back to life" during the heat of the 2011 summer.
He also pointed out the work contributed by Larry Howell, Dom DeFelice and John Haswell, saying, "those guys basically made this their baby, so we could play on green grass."
The new system will certainly ease the burden from those gentlemen in the future.
"You didn't have even application of coverage like you do with the fully automatic system," Dimmick said. "Now, they'll have a very even application of water, which will give the best overall result."
When Dimmick indicated to the school and sports foundation that he'd be willing to make a donation then the idea really took off.
"Naturally, when this opportunity came about, we felt like we needed to jump on it," Campbell said.
The Sports Foundation's cost of the project is just over $8,000.
"Our money stays with the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley," Campbell said. "This project allowed us to still have some money in the bank, some operating money and we're going to be doing some more fundraisers. We're in good shape as an organization, and I really think we're here to stay."
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org