In the past few months, Louisa County High School’s agriculture and turf maintenance teacher of 30 years, Mike Hopkins, decided the time to retire was quickly approaching.
And as Hopkins prepared to step down, his dedicated group of students stepped up.
Thanks to the effort put in by The Jungle Turf Crew under the instruction of Hopkins, The Jungle was named the 2013 Soccer Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association on Friday, Nov. 22nd. It’s the second time in three years that the field has received national recognition, taking home first place honors in the football field category in 2011.
“It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” said Hopkins, who officially retired on Wednesday, Nov. 27. “We know we have one of the best fields around, but when your peers across the country deem it the best field, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Being one of only five schools in the state that has a high school turf management team – the Lions formed their team a decade ago – LCHS has quickly become the standard for excellence.
Since taking over the program in 2009, Hopkins has implemented a work model that lets students get their hands dirty, literally. Dedicating 150 hours of labor every week during the sports seasons, Hopkins’ students are responsible for the majority of the field’s upkeep.
Hopkins believes that the in-depth level of student involvement plays a key role in the program’s success.
“In part of the application process, we emphasize that [the field] is student-kept and student-maintained,” Hopkins said. “I think that enters into the equation when being selected. It’s very unique that a school has students that actually take care of a field, and then take care of it to the level that we maintain ours.”
The Jungle Turf Crew is composed of more than a dozen students who are members of Hopkins’ advanced turf management class. Under the instruction of Hopkins, they do everything from aerating the field using large farm equipment to intricate jobs, such as painting lines and logos.
To read the entire story, see the Dec. 5 edition of The Central Virginian.