EJ TODAA: Engineering the Experience of Excellence
Throughout my athletic career, I am grateful to have played football on every level, from high school to the NFL. I have seen a lot of different playing surfaces and have experienced the atmosphere of several different stadiums. When it was fourth and goal in the last minute of a game that decided our bowl eligibility, I was not thinking about the design and planning efforts it took for me to stand on the field safely. I was thinking about my teammates, the fans who cheered us on, and the coaches who had prepared us for that exact moment. Everyone in attendance during a game is on the edge of their seats, entirely focused on the one potentially season-changing play, not on the design of the field. This is where Draper Aden Athletics comes in. Draper Aden Athletics creates athletic facilities that provide these edge-of-your-seat experiences and memories that are unique to sports. Later in this blog, I will discuss how Draper Aden was able to Engineer the Experience for the County of Henrico and their nine High schools.
I recently joined Justin Cornwell on his site visits to Douglas S. Freeman High School and Hermitage High School. We visited Douglas S. Freeman High School first. As we approached the field, Justin showed me where we performed improvements on the entrance trail. In addition to the entry trail, we installed a sidewalk and new fencing around the field, as well as other tweaks, to ensure that the area was ADA compliant. When we made it onto the field, I was astonished to see how immaculate the playing surface and surrounding improvements looked. As we walked the area, Justin showed me the different parts of the playing surface and how they interact together. The fields use a hybrid fiber system along with an organic infill. The benefit of using an organic infill is that it provides a much cooler playing surface as opposed to using a rubber surface. Padding was also placed under the playing surface to reduce concussions and lower leg injuries for the athletes using the field. This design technique resonated with me because I have suffered both variations of these injuries. The first concussion that I suffered from was a result of my head banging against the turf. As a result of my second injury, an Achilles rupture, due to my cleats getting stuck in the turf, my professional football career was cut short. I know from personal experience how valuable these field improvements can be.
As we made our way to the scoreboard, Justin gave me a brief backstory explaining where the high school wanted a flood light to illuminate signage for their sponsors that were difficult to see under the existing lighting. Instead of putting a standalone floodlight by the field, which would be a tripping hazard, we installed floodlights directly onto the scoreboard and ran the wiring under the D area of the field. This provided better lighting of the signage while keeping anyone using the field out of harm’s way. The thing that impressed me most is what we were able to do at Hermitage High School. After the area was ready for the installation of new artificial turf, there was a large amount of excess dirt remaining. Removing this dirt would have been costly, so our team used the soil to create both a shotput and discus throwing area to replace the aging, existing ones. Henrico was so pleased with the way the throwing areas turned out for Hermitage that they asked us to improve them at all nine of their high schools.
Through the collaboration of multiple Draper Aden Associates divisions, we were able to leave a Lasting Positive Impact on the County of Henrico by improving their athletic fields that are used both by students and members of the community. Whether making a field’s walkways and bleachers ADA compliant, generating innovative ideas to save our clients’ money, or providing solutions to unique safety and lighting issues, Draper Aden is truly Engineering the Experience.
To contact me for more details on our services, technologies, and design approaches, you can connect with me today on LinkedIn. Be sure to download your free copy of our Draper Aden Athletics brochure to learn more about our approach to sports field design.
Written by EJ Wilson,
Business Development Manager
Connect with me on LinkedIn