When Eric Lombardi looked around the 104-acre Fort Worth Country Day campus, he saw a room for improvement in one area: its athletic fields.
As a private school unable to call for a bond or use tax dollars, the head of school went to donors and found 21 willing to give a combined $3.5 million to make the vision a reality.
Fort Worth Country Day, 4200 Country Day Lane, recently completed renovations to its track and turf fields that will fit the needs of multiple teams.
The project involved excavating the field hockey field, the multi-sport field at Rosacker Stadium and the track. The improvements will help the field hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer and track and field teams.
Improvements started in spring 2021 and were mostly finished by October 2022, but the final touches to the project were completed in the first week of January.
For Lombardi, the improvements are not just about beautifying the campus, but about enhancing the quality of the experience for the students.
The field hockey team now will be playing on turf instead of grass, he said. The turf is designed for field hockey and — though he said he doesn’t know the science behind it — Lombardi knows the sport gets faster on turf.
“Most importantly, what that field does is give our girls the chance to consider competing after high school,” Lombardi said. “The colleges around the country that have field hockey programs are running their programs on artificial turf, similar to this one. Ours is capable of being internationally certified.”
Similar changes will help track students. Lombardi said the entire new surface on the track is what the fastest times are run on.
“One of our hopes for both field hockey and track is we’ll have a facility at such a level that people will want to bring their competitions from other places here,” he said.
The school also improved the main competition field to be used for lacrosse, football and soccer. The artificial turf on that field won’t be as affected by weather conditions, Lombardi said.
“We felt like the surfaces that they now make, the turf that they now build, are safer and more gentle on the bodies that would be running on them and falling on them, being tackled on them, etc.,” Lombardi said.
He appreciates the donors who came together to make these improvements possible for kids. Most tuition money is reserved for paying salaries and other high-priority costs, so donors were crucial to making the project a reality, he said.
“We are incredibly — literally indebted to in this case — to the 21 families who saw a need and saw the impact that their dollars could have and felt compelled to make it happen,” Lombardi said. “I have to be incredibly grateful for those folks who have the ability and then have the interest and then make the commitment to helping something like this happen.”
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.