DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fun-tastic field gives soccer extra motivation

 The articifial turf at Xavier Prep’s Petznick Field seems greener than it has been in the past.

That’s because it is.

The artistic Gator logo in the middle of the field seems bigger, full of life.

That’s because it is.

The surface on which athletes run around seems smoother, easier to navigate.

That’s because it is.

Gee, you would think the field has been completely redone.

That’s because it has.

The first occupant of the facility this winter will be XCP’s two-time defending state champion soccer team.

The Gators have been practicing for about two weeks of preseason and some physical education classes are getting some work in.

“It is awesome, beautiful,’’ said soccer coach Barb Chura. “Xavier has some of the best facilities for a high school program, not just for soccer.’’

The original field was in use for nearly 10 years. Every year in the spring, the rising temperatures would make the surface of the field very hot. Water cannons were part of the maintenance, at least when players took breaks from practices and games.

“It doesn’t seem to heat up like the other did,’’ Chura said.

The field will have a lot of occupants other than soccer. In the spring, there will be the school’s two-time defending state champion softball team, lacrosse, and the new flag football team that is expected to begin play.

One thing that fans might not notice but Chura sure has is sideline boundary lines are a different color at the west end of the field. In that area, the surface has a coral/clay tint of the softball infield. In the past, the soccer sidelines there have been red, which kind of blend into the turf.

But from now on, those lines will be yellow, to allow officials to better see what is happening. It’s good for officials to be able to see, and she should know – she has been a club referee for quite some time.

“Even before they redid it, it was one of the best fields around,’’ said senior soccer midfielder Bella Leonard. “It is another great example of all the things that Xavier does for us (athletes). We just love being on the field.’’

Senior forward Larkin Thomason has studied the way the ball moves and bounces.

“I think it is going to give myself and my teammates more opportunities to score,’’ she said.

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