In May of 2015, Second Chance Fields began a year long process to complete what has been our Largest, most difficult and ambitious project to date to completely remove 100,000 square feet of contaminated soil and dead grass and replace it with a brand new, state of the art and functioning multi use sports field that would be enjoyed by both, the community and the students for years to come. First thing we had to establish however, was whether the field was even repairable! The subgrade was solid clay beneath the existing sports field, on top of that, when the field was installed they did not use the proper material as the root zone, nor did they install enough of the material. On top of that, the type of grass that was installed when the field was built was the wrong type of grass for athletic activities. They installed a grass called fescue, which is typically used in low traffic residential settings and cannot hold up to the rigorous wear and tear that multi use sports activities present. Additionally, when they installed the fescue turf they used rolls of sod to install it and fescue sod rolls contain green netting throughout the rolls for stability because of the weak roots of fescue grass.
The school, in order to save on water, was built with a water catchment system to serve as the source for all the irrigation on the campus, including the sports fields. Due to the close proximity to the ocean however, rainwater in San Diego contains extremely high levels of sodium in the water, among other minerals that are extremely dangerous to fescue grass. As a result, the rain water killed all the grass on the field and after 6 years of using this water it contaminated the soil so bad that nothing could grow. As a result, the maintenance department was unable to make any repairs to the field short of ripping the entire field out and starting all over again from scratch! That was not an option for the Poway Unified School District, who was in the middle of a major budget deficit because of a major scandal within the districts supervision. That’s where Second Chance Fields comes in. We were contacted by Del Norte High Schools Athletic Director and brought in to see if there was anything we could do. With the help of our Board of Directors Vice-President, Luke Yoder, we did a full inspection of the field, including a soil test that was sent to the lab, which determined that the field contained sodium levels that were off the chart! The only way this field would be repaired was with a complete replacement. So, Second Chance Fields, under our “Field of Dreams” program signed the memorandum of Understanding and began work to raise the funds and support necessary to pull off this monumental undertaking. After 8 months of constant fundraising, Second Chance Fields was able to raise the $250,000 dollars’ worth of In-kind and direct donations needed in order to make this project a reality.
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, made a generous donation of $50,000 dollars to purchase 1800 tons of USGA spec’d Silica sand for the new root zone and the new Bermuda Bullseye turf that would be installed on all 100,000sqft in the form of solons. Eagle Paving, an asphalt contractor, contributed approximately $70,000 dollars’ worth of in-kind donations by providing their asphalt grinder and operating crew to grind the subgrade surface and pulverize the soil so that the contaminates would be broken up. They also transported all 2000 tons of contaminated soil and dead grass that was stripped from the field by volunteers from the Heavy Equipment Operators Squadron on board MCAS Miramar using tractors supplied by Pauly Equipment rental and Hawthorn CAT as a 100% donation. All 1800 tons of new, USGA spec’d Silica Sand was provided at an extremely discounted price from PW Gillibrands plant in San Juan Capistrano and was then spread and graded over the field by Second Chance Fields founder, Josh Pratchard, and District equipment operator by utilizing a massive D8 Caterpillar Bulldozer provided by Hawthorn CAT. Once the sand was spread out evenly, Barkshire Laser Leveling sent crews in to laser grade all 100,000 sqft of playing surface free of charge! This project took 13 months for one man, founder Josh Pratchard, to arrange, research, fundraise, plan, manage and even perform a lot of the work himself! Together, with his hard work and sacrifice and the huge commitment of resources, equipment, materials, funds and experience from our sponsors, partners and donors Second Chance Fields finished work on the Del Norte High School Lower Sports Field in August of 2016 and dedicated the field to the school and recognized its sponsors and donors in September of 2016 and we are proud to present our third and biggest project to date to the Student Athletes at Del Norte High School and its community to enjoy for years to come!