Water well to quench effects on athletics

The administration is trying to dig deep to find a solution.

The Duncan City Council voted in the fall to put Duncan into the highest level of water restrictions, Stage 5. The restrictions went into effect on Jan. 11. The restrictions have been affecting many businesses and individuals throughout the recent months, and the campus is not exempt from the limitations.

“It is affecting the way our school looks,” Principal Justin Smith said. “We’re going from green grass to brown.”

The effects go further than just landscaping.

“The concern is that the playing fields will be hard, almost concrete-like,” Interim Superintendent Glenda Cobb said. “We need to mitigate that problem.”

Head baseball coach Tim Hightower said that the drought is definitely a challenge to deal with.

“Water is a very important resource,” Hightower said. “It’s our job as a school system to conserve it for the community of Duncan.”

He found that the drought hasn’t been a major concern yet because of the recent precipitation, but as summer approaches it will become a more prominent issue.

“This is not the perfect situation,” Hightower said.

Players will have to recognize the change in soil and adjust the way they play due to differences such as the way the ball will bounce against the hard surface. As far as performance, Duncan will still be fairly matched in games.

“Any opponents will be playing on the same field,” Hightower said.

While the field may not increase the risk of lower scores, it does increase the risk of injury.

“As head coach, my main concern is the safety of my players,” Hightower said.

Certified Athletic Trainer Kevin Kinnaird LPTA, ATC/L works as a physical therapy assistant. He deals with a lot of people who come in with knee pain or other injuries who often run on roads or other hard ground. He tells them they need to change their surface. Kinnaird said the same applies to the packed fields at the high school, where he is the contract athletic trainer. He is concerned that the harder playing surface may increase the potential rate for injuries such as concussions, shin splints, turf burns and joint pains.

“Athletes have to have a good surface to run on,” Kinnaird said. “The community and school are obligated to provide the best surface we can.”

Other than watering, Kinnaird doesn’t see any clear way of preventing the problem.

“Our athletes have to run,” Kinnaird said. “Conditioning is part of the sport.”

Currently, the school is using a 550-gallon tank of water to keep the packed fields under control. This entails a daily process of filling up the tank and taking it to the field.

“It’s going to be difficult to water [the fields],” Hightower said.

However, a more permanent solution could be found through the drilling of a well.

A lot went into the process of deciding to drill, but Cobb said the main deciding factor was the students’ safety.

“Coach Benson and Hightower were the ones who brought the need to Len Lawson [the school district’s maintenance director] and me,” says Cobb. “We set the wheels in motion.”

She soon found out that deciding to build a well and the actual process of getting it dug are very different.

“It’s not as easy as you would think,” Cobb said. “[The process] became surprisingly difficult.”

First they had to request a tentative approval from the Oklahoma Water Resource Board, which was granted. They have a certain window of time to drill the well before final approval will be given.

“Anyone can drill a well, but you have to have permission to take any water out of it,” Cobb said.

Even after the final approval is given, there will still be things to learn, such as how far down they will have to drill and the quality of the water. One of the main concerns is the amount of water the well will produce.

“We’re hopeful we will get enough water to water all four fields,” Cobb said. “If not, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and go into the process of digging another well.”