By Frank Klimko
The Southwestern Youth Association (SYA) has replaced the grass on one of its fields at the Sports Park in preparation for a flood of local youth who will be playing on a number of sports teams this fall.
The SYA, which enrolls kids from Clifton, Centreville and Chantilly, just finished putting a new top on Field 3 at the park, a collection of fields and baseball diamonds off of Bull Run Post Office Road on the fringe of Centreville. The field was switched from the less robust fescue grass, which usually is grown in residential back yards, to the more hardy and durable Bermuda grass, said SYA Board Vice President Jeff Stein.
“The Bermuda is tough and it is a much better playing surface,” Stein said. “When it’s put down, it stays level almost like a carpet. It doesn’t have the dirt clumps that you have with the fescue, which can die out.”
The expansive fields were fitted with fescue grass originally because the Bermuda strain, although very resilient, could not tolerate the cold winters of Northern Virginia, Stein said. It’s mostly a southern grass. However, planters recently developed a more cold-resistant version of the grass, which has been installed on several fields at the park.
It’s not a perfect solution, because the Bermuda turns brown in the winter and greens up late, Stein said. The solution is to overseed with fescue in the fall, which provides a nice green to the fields in the spring, he said. The fescue then is replaced by the heat-loving Bermuda grass as the weather warms up, he said.
The lush green fields and the sports park are the center of the association’s $10 million “Field of Dreams Project,” which aims to turn the old sod farm into a privately held recreational complex dedicated to youth sports.
Fundraising for Phase II of the project is ongoing, Stein said, even as the group gets ready for the rush of fall sports, which includes football, soccer, cheerleading, fall baseball, field hockey and fall track & field. About 4,000 youth have signed up so far.
“Registration so far is pretty good and interest in the fall sports is high,” Stein said.