When the Peninsula School District closed down the Gig Harbor High School turf fields in early December for some routine maintenance, Harbor Soccer Club was limited to using Roy Anderson Field for practices for all of its teams.
“We had eight to 10 teams at a time on that one field,” said Harbor Soccer general manager Jason Jarrett. “There’s nothing else out there.”
I wrote recently about the city’s acquisition of the land in Gig Harbor north and its plan to build several lit, turf multi-purpose fields as part of a sprawling Gig Harbor Sports Complex.
Assuming the plan continues to move forward smoothly, this would be outstanding news for local sports clubs such as Harbor Soccer, Gig Harbor Lacrosse, the Peninsula Lacrosse Association, Peninsula Youth Football and others. A lack of quality, lit and turf field space is a real issue in this area.
“There are somewhere between six and eight teams all on those Gig Harbor (High School) turf fields at night at one time,” said Gig Harbor lacrosse president Clay Selby. “There are three lacrosse teams on one field. You might have 100 boys on one field. It’s just hard to make that happen. And then whenever there’s a varsity sport, everyone gets booted.”
The lacrosse club has around 200 participants. Harbor Soccer has 1,700 total between its recreational and select teams.
“It’s a big, pressing issue for the community,” Jarrett said. “Not just for soccer, but for all youth sports. From October on, it’s imperative that you’re on turf and it’s lit because of the daylight time. We don’t get back on grass until April, May. Any of those sports have to have the turf during that time. If you don’t have a lit, turf field, you don’t have a spot to go.”
Turns out, it rains quite a bit here (shocker, huh?). That can make many of the grass fields in the area virtually unusable for long stretches of the winter and spring.
“We had to cancel several games last year because the fields were just shot,” Selby said. “The quality and conditions can often be really subpar.”
Having more adequate field space would also allow local sports clubs to host more tournaments, boosting tourism dollars and bringing more people into the area throughout the year.
“The increased capacity would allow a lot more usage, tournament possibilities,” Jarrett said. “We also have a restriction of how many times we can train our teams because of field capacity. Hopefully, it’ll allow us to do that more. We think it would help increase participation, both on premiere and rec side.”
With development still going strong in Gig Harbor north, more families moving in means more kids looking for space to play.
“The population is only increasing,” Jarrett said. “The recreation space has to follow that growth model, otherwise we won’t be encouraging healthy lifestyles. We want to make sure we have the proper facilities. Getting kids active is vital.”
There is still quite a bit of work to do, with the city planning to draft a master plan for the site in the first half of 2018. There are still additional funds to secure, grants to apply for, more hoops to jump through. But for local sports club, progress is music to their ears.