Willig Field gets makeover


Lt. Col. Chris McMartin

A drone operated by AFJROTC took this photo of the updated Willig Field last month.

After five months of construction and a total cost of $2.46 million, The Woodlands High School’s Weldon Willig field was resurfaced with a new all-weather artificial turf.

The funding for the new turf at Willig Field came from the district’s savings account which was then transferred into the district’s capital maintenance where it was used to pay for the new playing surface, according to Sarah Blakelock, Conroe ISD’s Director of Communications.

The new artificial turf comes with different qualities than actual grass. The majority of these qualities are positive though there are some negatives.

One upside to the new all-weather turf is that, as its name implies, is all weather. As long as there is no lighting there will always be a field to play on.

“For us, the biggest plus is that as long as there’s no lightning we will always have a place to practice,” athletic director and head football coach Jim Raap said.

With this benefit not only will the high school teams no longer have to worry about not having a place to practice or play, but also McCullough Jr. High.

Previously, if the surface at Willig Field was unplayable the team would have to bus to some part of The Woodlands that had a turf field, like Bear Branch Sports Fields or Woodforest Bank Stadium.

“Now we will always have a place to practice without having to bus somewhere,” Coach Raap said.

The varsity team’s game field, Woodforest Bank Stadium, is equipped with all-weather artificial turf just like Willig’s.

“The new turf is great because we can practice on what we play on,” varsity quarterback Mabrey Mettauer said.

Although almost completely positive, the perception of the new turf also comes with some negatives.
“One downside of the turf is the temperature, it gets super hot under the sun,” said Mettauer.

In order to give the illusion of grass, the turf is filled with tons of little rubber pieces.

“The rubber pieces get everywhere, in your cleats on your pads and stuck on your body,” Mettauer said.

The Woodlands was not the only high school in the district to get the turf upgrade; the others were College Park High School and Oak Ridge high school.

The other two schools had a lengthened construction time due to the installation of an underground water detention solution.

“We started construction in the middle of May and finished it the week before school started; our field was completed faster due to us having room for a satellite retention pond,” TWHS associate principal Dennis Muehsler said.
Along with the many coaching and player benefits, there are also maintenance benefits.
“Facility-wise, we don’t have to put the chalk down every game, we don’t have to worry about fertilizer, irrigation or mowing,” Muehsler said.