Field Hockey’s New Turf

The MICDS Varsity and Junior Varsity Field Hockey teams, coaches, parents, fans and friends gathered at Thomas Field on a beautiful fall afternoon for the first game of the season and to dedicate the new, state-of-the-art water turf installation. Happily, the installation coincides with the 40th anniversary of MICDS’ first Field Hockey State Championship.

Lynn Mittler, Varsity Field Hockey Coach, said, “There are only two other fields like this in St. Louis. The field allows us to push the speed and precision of our skill execution. It is a great opportunity for our girls going on to play in college to compete on the same type of surface and it allows all of our players to push themselves to an even higher level of play. We are so grateful for our community that supported this endeavor.”

Our previous field hockey field was reaching the end of its useful life and was scheduled for replacement next summer. Thanks to donor-initiated fundraising comprised mainly of current field hockey parents to upgrade the field, we were able to install a wet turf field this year. This is the type of field that is used at the collegiate and elite levels because it allows for a smoother and faster play. The new field can be played either wet or dry. While the field was installed without the irrigation to make the turf wet, a second phase of the installation will allow for the water cannons to make the field wet.

Marjorie Carr, mother of Varsity player Caroline Carr ’20 who has committed to play at Dartmouth, said, “This is a great field for such a top-quality program. It’s not only a wonderful opportunity for our girls, it helps elevate St. Louis as a field hockey town.” Rachel Oliver, whose daughter Kate Oliver ’22 has already committed to playing field hockey at Stanford, agreed. She said, “This field allows for better stick control and the ball moves faster. It enables our players to launch into the next level of play and to be as competitive as they can be in St. Louis.” This year’s Varsity team features three other players who have already committed to play in college: Reagan Calcari ’20 (University of New Hampshire), Molly Christopher ’20 (Villanova) and Mia Duchars ’20 (University of Louisville). Annie Sloane’s daughter Hattie Sloane ’25 plays Middle School Field Hockey and is excited about the new field. Mrs. Sloane said, “Having the water turf is an incredible opportunity for skill development and overall growth of the game for today’s players and beyond.”

Athletics Director Josh Smith welcomed guests and said, “We are fortunate to have a passionate community to support our student-athletes.” After expressing gratitude, he handed the mic over to Coach Mittler.

She said, “It is dangerous to ask an English teacher to make comments at a dedication. They probably should have provided seating. But I do want to take this opportunity to offer context so that we can truly appreciate the weight and significance of this moment. Twenty years ago when I began my MICDS coaching career, I could not even have understood why water on turf would be a good idea. And there are many parents here who may remember even further back to the Mary I days when this field actually went East to West providing one team an additional defender when the sun was setting. But when the field complex was designed and dedicated to Coach Holtman and his philosophy of “It’s always the team,” the Thomas family wanted to make sure that not only was the history of Mary I preserved but that women’s athletics would hold center stage at MICDS. Creating a field that is dedicated to women’s athletics in the center of campus is a powerful statement to not only the students but the community at large. Field hockey at Mary I started nearly 100 years ago, but this new commitment showed that MICDS would take this responsibility seriously for generations to come.

“I have had the privilege to see this very field evolve over the last 20 years, and each time we were excited for the new technology and the opportunity it would bring for the girls. Years ago, we built a sand base and planted bluegrass for the smoothest grass surface available (also what we have on field 2). It is hard to imagine (especially for the girls and Margot) being excited about grass, but this was guaranteed to speed up our game and it did. Then in the spring of 2009, there was the exciting moment when the Holekamp family so generously provided our first turf and we were elated not only by the speed and consistency of the surface, but that games wouldn’t be rained out because of a wet field. And now this day when Thomas Field has become only the second water turf at a high school in St. Louis and truly the fastest surface available for our sport.

“I simply cannot say enough about the generosity of our families who made this happen in such a short period of time so we could start our season on this surface. It has instantly impacted our program as we have been able to push our skills and speed to a level we have not been able to achieve before. Our girls have the tremendous opportunity to play on the most elite surface available to our sport and I remind them that the Olympics are played on a field just like this. There is not a day when I step on this field that I am not grateful for this remarkable facility, and we hope to bring that spirit to our entire season. It is easier to work hard and try your best on a daily basis when you have evidence of the support of your community under your feet.

“Thomas Field has changed and evolved over the years (as has MI and MICDS), but the dedication to excellence in women’s sports, and field hockey specifically, has remained the same and I want to extend my gratitude, once again, to the generous families who have made this possible for not only these athletes, but those for years to come.”

We must express gratitude, as well, to our incredible Sports Boosters for their unwavering support and beautiful (and delicious!) custom cookies. Thanks also to our Alumni and Development team for the much-appreciated bottles of water on a very warm day.

The Varsity Field Hockey team, after cutting the ribbon to dedicate their new turf, went on to defeat Cor Jesu 4-0. It was a great inaugural game!