Prepping the Football Field
Of all the preparation and practice devoted to the first home football game of the season, the most fundamental of all is the physical preparation of the football field. The custodial crew puts in hours caring for the grass and measuring and painting the lines, numbers, and hash marks.
Beginning in the spring, the grass on the football field must be regularly aerated, sprayed, fertilized, watered, and mowed . . . and mowed . . . and mowed.
In mid-August, Bunny and Jim Ehrlich begin to measure out the lines. “We have to find the pegs on each side and in the end zones and then we run lines (strings) between the pegs. These are then painted with a painter and then we measure where we are going to set the stencils for the hash marks and the stencils for the numbers. Then Jim paints the actual cross lines and out of bounds lines with a painter. I paint the hash marks and the stencils by hand with spray paint,” Bunny explained.
The initial measurement and painting is the most difficult because the stenciled numbers and marked lines have to be painstakingly measured the first time. “We repaint every week so we don’t lose the lines or numbers. I only have to carry the stencils with me the first time, and we only have to string the lines the first time unless it’s really muddy,” Bunny said. The practice field has to be painted as well, and it takes between three and a half to four hours each week to keep the fields freshly painted.
Even if the Braves don’t use the field because they are playing away, Jim and Bunny must repaint every week so they don’t lose the lines and have to measure everything out from the beginning again. If it’s sufficiently muddy and the field is torn up after the game tonight and youth football tomorrow, Jim and Bunny will have to start all over.
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