INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Though the school was founded in 1851, Marian University’s football program is fairly new with its first season back in 2007. But don’t let the dates fool you. In this short span of time, the Knights have managed to achieve great victories, playing in the NAIA Championship three times and taking the title twice; in 2012 and again in 2015. The Knights are now ranked third in the country in pre-season rankings for the upcoming 2017 football season.
Marian University, located just northwest of downtown Indianapolis, is a school of excellence in many sports, from cycling to cross county, and their athletic facilities illustrate their dedication to their sports programs. St. Vincent Field is the home field of the Knights, used by both Marian University and Cardinal Ritter High School. When the school noticed it was time for a new turf field after the other turf had become worn after 10 years of use, the hunt for a new turf company began.
Narrowing down the options took time and effort. “We definitely did our homework,” said Jeff Castner, Assistant Director of Facilities. “All of the companies had similar turf, but none had the three different types of turf fibers and thatch layer like Shaw Sports Turf.” The school also asked around local colleges and high schools and found Shaw to be the perfect choice for two main reasons: price and quality. “Shaw came in at a lower price than the competitors and presented a superior product that was head and shoulders above the rest. We also thought it was important that Shaw made their own turf,” said Castner.
In the end, Marian chose to go with Shaw Sports Turf Spike Zone Pro with Schmitz EcoSport Pad. The school decided to add the pad for safety reasons to hopefully avoid concussions, and in case it becomes a requirement later down the road. Spike Zone Pro is the newest innovation from Shaw Sports Turf, featuring a patented manufacturing process which runs three distinct fiber types through one needle as the field is tufted.
Spike Zone Pro features a combination of monofilament fibers, slit film fibers, and a Spike Zone thatch layer. Shaw’s Boltmonofilament fiber is made with a high quality resin that has a thick, lightning bolt-shaped cross section (no spines) to prevent premature wear such as fraying and splitting. It excels in performance characteristics (ball roll and ball rebound) and is known for mirroring the aesthetics of natural grass. The slit film fiber is a high performance resin with superior durability, providing performance with a fiber that will stand the test of time. The Spike Zone layer is a thatch layer that minimizes infill movement and migration to other areas of the field, providing extra protection against inconsistent and unsafe surfaces.
All three fibers are run through one needle, a process no other synthetic turf company has been able to replicate. This patented manufacturing process is extremely important in avoiding streaky fields which are created when manufacturers use three fiber types, but cannot run them all through one needle. Other manufacturers are forced to create alternating rows of different fiber types. Each of these fibers has a different look, so when rows are alternated, the field has a streaky look. Spike Zone Pro eliminates the problem and provides a strong, hard-wearing surface that looks great and can meet multi-sport performance requirements.
The primary activities to be held on the field include football, soccer, and women’s lacrosse. Men’s lacrosse will be added next year. The local high school team will also play their Friday night football games on the field. Other uses for the field will be band practice and Marian’s intramural sports programs.
“I think all of the Marian students and athletic teams that use the new field will be excited. It’s much safer and provides outstanding quality and performance. It’s an excellent addition to campus for all our student athletes. In fact, when the President of Marian went to look at the field on the final day of completion, he called it ‘a showcase of a field’,” said Castner.
The install team took just 13 days to install Marian’s new turf, starting construction on May 30th and completing the field on June 12th. “It was almost beyond belief,” said Castner. “The team worked non-stop, were very professional, answered all of our questions, and were very easy to work with. The job was flawless.” The football team is already working out, running drills and kicking field goals on the new turf field.
Though the school hasn’t officially planned an opening ceremony for the field, there will be something planned at the start of the new 2017 football season.
"Due to the highly competitive athletic programs here at Marian University, we knew we had to install a playing surface that allowed the athletes to perform at their maximum potential,” said Jennifer Holton, Territory Manager with Shaw Sports. “The Spike Zone Pro product along with the shock pad will provide the highest performing system in the collegiate realm. With that being said, I'm looking forward to watching the Knights pull in another NAIA National Title out on St. Vincent Field."