East Haven football coach Scott Benoit was at a walk-through for the new, synthetic turf at Frank Crisafi Field at the high school last Wednesday night.
“It looked great,” Benoit said. “It would have been finished either this week or next week.”
Just 24 hours after that walk-through, the new field was completely destroyed by a microburst Thursday night. The visitors’ bleachers had also been flipped over.
“To be honest with you, pictures don’t do the destruction of the field justice. You have to see it for yourself,” Benoit said.
As the fall sports teams have begun practice in hopes for a season to begin Oct. 1, East Haven has had to find new places to practice and host its games.
According to Anthony Verderame, East Haven’s athletic director, Crisafi Field would have been used for more.
“There was a lot of planning that went into the use of the facility, not just for physical education, but also for general education classes,” Verderame said.
The football team is now practicing on the baseball field. Verderame said the team could end up playing its home games at the Crisafi Practice Field — where the Yellowjackets used to play their home games decades ago — at Joseph Melillo Middle School.
“It’s a really, really nice place,” Benoit said of the old Crisafi Field. “Like I told the kids, it has no bearing on how we prepare. We will keep our focus on preparing for a season. Our guys have worked very hard the last three years to let any obstacles define them. We will move along and do the best we can.”
Verderame said both soccer teams are practicing on the outfield grass of the varsity softball field. That’s where the games will also be played, Verderame said.
The course used for cross country runs the full length of the school grounds. Verderame said trees need to be cleared out on the course before it can be used in full.
“It’s a little disheartening to see the (East Haven) campus the way it is right now,” said longtime cross country coach Anthony Russell, also a teacher at the school. “We’re going back (to school) next week and you want the kids to come to a familiar place and have some sense of normalcy and when they come up the hill, the first thing they’ll see is this. However, we all have to push on and do our best in light of the current situation.”
Verderame said the interaction with both coaches and athletes has been quote positive despite the loss of its home field.
“The coaches have been amazing,” Verderame said. “The kids just want to play, play with each other and compete. That’s all they want.”