Friday, September 26, 2008

Like a virgin, for the very first time...

AS sophomore midfielder Daneen Zug passed the ball to teammate Jessica Longstreth Wednesday against Princeton, a spray of water came up from the field when her stick slid across the surface.

However, it hadn't rained in State College in several days.

The Penn State field hockey team plays on an Astroturf field, which is an artificial or synthetic turf that is water-based. Before every game, and often during halftime, the maintenance crew at AstroTurf Field turns on two giant water hoses to soak down the field before the team competes on it.

Penn State coach Char Morett said watering the field helps athletes with their footing because the surface is spongy, meaning it will give and they won't get stuck in the turf. She also said the water helps prevent the ball from skipping, making all passes possible on the field.

"It sorta gives you the best of both worlds," Morett said. "You can do good, hard passes if that's what you're looking for, or you can pace the ball down the field because it's absorbing a little bit of water. This field allows you to do both because of the water."

The Nittany Lions play on the highest quality of Astroturf available to athletics, a Grade A turf or a regulation water-based turf. This is the only type of surface major field hockey events can be played on, such as the NCAA tournament and international matches.

Since the ball is usually on the ground in field hockey games, a smooth surface is required to keep the ball rolling. On a grass or field turf surface (which contains rubber pellets), the ball will get caught up in divots making the players come over the top of it when they try to make a pass. The smoothness of the turf accelerates the pace of the game as well.

"It's a lot faster," freshman midfielder Longstreth said. "Your stick moves a lot easier meaning you can hit balls quicker."

For the majority of the Penn State team, the first turf field they saw was at the collegiate level. Junior midfielder Amy Bonenberger said unless you played on a club team or your high school team made it to the playoffs, you played on a grass field. She said some fields she played on at the high school level were terrible, sometimes even in pastures full of weeds and dirt.

Morett said another advantage of playing on an Astroturf field is the team sees less injuries than they would playing on a more uneven surface. Since there are no divots, ankle rolls and torn ACLs are rarely seen.

However, the Lions said taking a fall is not as easy on turf as it is on grass. Bonenberger said when she or a teammate gets up from falling, it is not unlikely to find turf burns which are similar to rug burns. She said the burns sometimes sting, and the trainers have a special cream they put on the athletes' wounds before they bandage them up.

"Me and one other player have to wear knee pads on our knees because our turf burns keep reopening," Bonenberger said. "You can't play if you're bleeding, so we have to cover up our burns so we can still play."

The Lions aren't the only ones who are impressed with AstroTurf Field. Bob Hudzik, the Director of Outdoor Facilities, enjoys the little maintenance the field requires.

He said his department only needs to paint the field hockey lines once or twice a year, monitor the irrigation system and sweep off the field with a sweeper device on occasion.

In its fourth year of use, AstroTurf Field is "as true as you get," Morett said. In the future, she hopes to see improvements in the landscaping around the stadium, but she knows that will come with time.

"I am just grateful Penn State gave us the finances to get this high quality of surface to use," Morett said. "I mean, pros come in and they go, 'This is a gorgeous field, this is a great field.' "

Hashim will defend post

WHILE many aspirants and incumbents are keeping the cards close to their chests, Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Sgt Hashim Yusoff declared yesterday that he will seek re-election, even if he gets only one nom ination.
The MHF elections will be held on Nov 1, with the nominations opening on Oct 3 and closing on Oct 25.
So far, president Tan Sri Admiral (rtd) Anwar Mohd Nor and deputy-president Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar have said they will seek re-election. But they have come to an agree ment wheres the person that gets the highest nomination for the president’s post, will become the next president.
But there might be a spanner in their plans, as Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad is also said to be keen, but has yet to make a stand.
“I will seek re-election (for the secretary’s post) even if I only get one nomination. The state delegates know who has worked and who has not for the past season, and I am sure they will make a right choice when nominating, and then marking the ballot papers,” said Hashim.
Hashim will be seeking his second term, after he toppled previous secretary T. Paramalingam in a straight fight in the last elections.
“I have sent out nomination papers to states, as the festive holidays are fast approaching and the standard procedure is for states to hold a meeting and name their candidates.
“And I hope states will check with the candidates before naming them, as nominating someone who does not want to stand for election will be a waste of time,” said Hashim.
And those who are nominated, but do not want to stand for elections, must withdraw before Oct 29, as MHF needs time to prepare ballot papers.
The states are abuzz with many aspirants and incumbents coming out with their choice of names for the MHF ‘cabinet’, and secret meetings and phone calls have already started, even though it is still a long way to the elections.
“I will be the least surprised if some states name chal lengers to the top two positions, or the vice-presidents.
“We practice democracy at the MHF, and our elections have always been fair to those who have put in the hours, or those who can come out with a sound manifesto,” said Hashim.
There are six vice-president’s posts in the MHF, with four up for elections, while Sabah and Sarawak get a choice to name theirs.