Reeves Field earns national honors

AU's own Reeves Field earned national honors this month as the 2002 Soccer Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association.

Each year this award is given to a college or university; however, one man in particular deserves a pat on the back.

Nick Gammill is a Certified Sports Field Manager and the sports turf supervisor for AU. The certification process of becoming a CSFM is one that incorporates education and experience. The four major areas of sports field management that are examined are Agronomics, Pest Management, Administration and Sports Specific Management.

Since AU is a land-locked school in an urban area, space is limited for any expansion of buildings or extra field space. If you've ever taken a stroll behind Bender Arena, down to Reeves, you would notice a border of tall trees behind the aluminum bleachers leading into the neighborhood.

Reeves Field was built in 1955 as a native soil field one year before the soccer team began, according to Gammill in an interview with Green Media Online. Then the field was renovated to its current appearance in 1994.

The surface consists of 80 percent sand and 20 percent peat root and the major attraction about Reeves is the irrigation and drainage system, Gammill said. With the heavy snowfall of last winter, AU had to get rid of 24 inches of snow due to the season opener for the lacrosse team. Also, the irrigation system usually runs at night to conserve water and uses 28,800 gallons of water, according to Gammill.

Locks or gates do not protect the award-winning field, which allows residents and students alike to use the field. However, the field is supposed to be restricted to varsity practice and games only hence the signs posted at both end lines.

Reeves is used nine months out of the year by the school, while other teams new to the area occasionally visit. The guest list includes professional soccer exhibition games and international soccer practices as teams prepared for the World Cup. Not to mention the Women's World Cup practiced on Reeves in September. Additionally, Barcelona's soccer team used Reeves two days before facing AC Milan at RFK Stadium.

However, Reeves is not only a site for athletic events, but also for famous speeches. It was the site of Commencement for many years including the well-known spring 1963 speech by President John F. Kennedy where he stated, "I have therefore chosen this time and this place to declare the most important topic on earth: World Peace. The United States will never start a war."

A monument to Kennedy's vision stands at the base of United States and AU flags at one end of Reeves, where the commencement stage had stood in 1963.

In the interview with Green Media Online, Gammill said AU is considering using Reeves for other events, as well. There were rumors about University officials considering the return of commencement ceremonies to the field, possibly in time for May 2004. Unfortunately, this rumor holds no water.

"We're not planning to use the field for 2004 graduation ceremony," said David Taylor, Chief of Staff for AU President Benjamin Ladner. "However, should the University decide to move that ceremony in the future, there are three potential sites. Reeves Field is included as one of these spots."

Adding flavor to Patriot League games, Gammill paints the AU and Patriot League logos on the hill to the right of the flags. He takes pride in his work knowing new students in particular enjoy the one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

"On of the goals of American University is to become one of the most distinctive urban campuses in the U.S.," Gammill said to Green Media Online. "We wanted to be know for more than the historic buildings of our D.C. location"

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