Injuries result on playing fields


Emma Garcia, Online Editor-in-Chief

Even after all the good that came from the building of the new football and soccer stadium, there are still Bear Creek sports facilities that are giving athletes and parents concerns.

In March, senior Makayla Altheide broke her ankle while playing on Bear Creek’s varsity softball field. Altheide said she sustained her injury when her cleat got caught in one of the many potholes that are littered around the field. Altheide went through several procedures to repair her injury, including an hour-long surgery.

“[After my injury] my season was over,” Altheide said. “We were only three league games into the season and because of the injury I am done with high school ball and [the injury] could potentially affect my ability to play in college. There were five colleges interested in my playing for them but now my choices are limited to Delta [College]. I may be able to play this summer to get back into it but it’s a wait and see kind of situation.”

Altheide’s injury does not come as a surprise to the softball coaches, who have expressed concern over their players’ safety for some time.
“Bear Creek probably has, out of all four of the high schools, the biggest landscaped facility that has to be taken care of,” Varsity coach Kirk Klucznik said. “And there’s only one person that is designated to take care of it.”

The “landscaped facility” Klucznik refers to is every piece of landscaping on Bear Creek’s campus, including all of the athletic fields.
“I think if they could just get another person, it would really help,” Klucznik said.

Many softball players also have concerns over the safety of their fields.

“There have been several injuries on both [the] JV and varsity fields so it gets really dangerous,” sophomore Jamie Wallis said. “When we play it distracts us from playing the game to our full potential due to being cautious about the goat heads that are in the dirt and all the holes in the outfield.”

Wallis’ “goat heads” reference is a type of sharp weed. Freshman Ashley Honorio is also out for the season after she reaggravated an injury during tryouts this year by stepping in a pothole similarly to Altheide.

“If they were to do general maintenance on our fields with the spraying of weeds and things throughout the year, then [the fields] wouldn’t be such a big mess at the beginning of the season and we wouldn’t have to start from zero every year,” JV coach Darcy Altheide, and parent of Makayla, said.

The softball fields are maintained by the district, like a lot of the athletic fields in Lodi Unified. However Bear Creek is the only softball program in Lodi Unified that has to maintain their fields themselves for both games and practices.

Coach Peter Pijl, who is in his first season as Bear Creek’s varsity baseball coach, saw the possible dangers that might come from the field and took matters into his own hands. With his own money, Pijl bought a professional mower and now maintains both the JV and varsity baseball fields himself.

“I am aware of [Makayla Altheide’s] injury,” Athletic Director Anthony Sahyoun said. “It is unfortunate any time a student is injured. I am [also] aware that Coach Pijl takes a lot of responsibility in maintaining the field. He is working cooperatively with our maintenance department.”

Pijl’s ability to work with the maintenance department surprises some coaches, particularly Cross Country and Track coach Jason Johnson, who was told by the current plant manager and administration that coaches were not allowed to work on their facilities.

“Four years ago, our football field was grossly overgrown,” Johnson said. “The grass was so dangerously high that I took it upon myself to mow the football field to an acceptable and safe level. I was reprimanded for cutting the lawn without proper permission. [However] I truly feel that with a recent transition in the Plant Supervisor, that many maintenance and grounds issues will be promptly addressed.”

Johnson is referring to the hiring of Head Custodian Eric Wise, who replaced Kim Woodruff earlier in the year.