NEW BRAUNFELS - Red - the color of love, excitement, intensity - is also the newest color in Comal County football fields as Canyon High School lays down red artificial turf in time for winter scrimmage.
"We're laying the rug," said Jim Rodrigue, athletic director for Comal Independent School District. The new, improved rubber-fiber turf, he said, is "as forgiving as grass."
Only it's red.
"Red is the power of the Cougar program," said Rodrigue, pointing out that the school's colors are red and white. Canyon High students and the football team "always take pride in red." So why not red turf?
The new red field, trimmed in black, will be ready next week for soccer scrimmage games, said Rodrigue, and the team "is as excited as they can be."
The red turf also will be ready for the CISD-sponsored Comal Cup Tournament Jan. 13-15, which hosts soccer teams from all over the state, said Rodrigue.
The original field at Cougar Stadium was grass, but for the past nine years, the team has been playing on green artificial turf that was overdue for replacement - one year past its eight-year warranty.
When the time came to talk about replacing the turf, Comal ISD had funds for the project from the 2008 bond issue: $400,000 to replace the artificial turf at Canyon High and another $400,000 to replace the field at Smithson Valley High School, also past its warranty period.
Dr. Marc Walker, superintendent of Comal ISD, who has been credited with having the idea of red turf, "had a hand in the process from the beginning," said Rodrigue.
After polling the high school community and speaking with coaches and administrators at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., which put down red turf last summer, Comal ISD officials decided that a red field promoting the team's colors could only be a plus.
But there were people who disagreed with the whole idea of red. There were complaints about the difficulty of staring at the color for a long time, but Rodrigue countered: "The audience gets used to it."
Another concern was the "intensity" that the color red can effect, perhaps stoking aggression in an already violent sport.
"We try to deal with controlled aggression," said Rodrigue. "It's a team's pride that makes them aggressive."
In the end, the red-turf project was given the green light.
"We had positive reaction from most," said Rodrigue, "enough to warrant doing."
How it's done
Putting down new turf on a football field is much like laying a carpet in a house:
• Smooth surface: The old turf is stripped off and the field surface is laser-graded to even smoothless. That surface is neither dirt nor concrete, but a mixture that is used to form a sturdy base.
• Carpet rolls: The artificial turf is rolled up like carpet and the yard lines are already painted on. Every five yards, 15-foot sections are unrolled across the field. The turf is glued to the base.
• Trimming: The sidelines and the end zones are cut to size and shape, as are the mascots, with colored turf inlays. The hash marks are added.
Smithson Valley sticks with green
Hellas Construction Company of Austin was hired to replace the turf at Cougar Stadium and at Smithson Valley High School.
Smithson Valley, whose school colors are navy-blue and white, also is changing its football field. It will retain the traditional green artificial turf but add a navy-blue trim. The green turf will be "two-tone" to imitate the patterns left by mowers.
For safety and other reasons, a totally navy field was out of the question, said Rodrigue. Since dark colors like navy and black retain heat, playing football on a navy-turf field might be hotter that playing in an asphalt-paved stadium.
Even hotter than red-hot.
When it comes to reflecting heat or retaining heat, said Rodrigue, "red is not that far from green."