Donor revealed for turf field

AMHERST – Polly Cal­vetti would sit in the Souhegan High School stadium, all bundled up, to watch her children and grandchildren play foot­ball.

"It was the highlight of her week," said her grand­daughter, Angela Hornor, at the groundbreaking ceremony Monday for an artificial turf field at the stadium.

Polly "would have been thrilled," Hornor said, that Souhegan will be installing the field with funds donated by their family, because contribut­ing to youth sports was al­ways a wish of her grand­parents.

Polly Calvetti died in 2012. Her husband, Nicho­las E. Calvetti Sr., died in 1981. On Monday, their son, Nick Calvetti, and sev­eral other family members gathered with community leaders and school offi­cials on what will be called the Calvetti Family Field.

Nick grew up in Mil­ford and played soccer, basketball and baseball at Milford High School. He graduated from Bent­ley College, the first fam­ily member to earn a col­lege degree, and went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Colorado. Eventually, he took over Amherst Label, the Milford company his parents started.

Last spring, school of­ficials announced that an anonymous donor offered the community $500,000 to install artificial turf on the football field, contin­gent upon raising the bal­ance of the nearly $1 mil­lion cost by Dec. 31.

Volunteers on the Sta­dium Project Commit­tee raised the more than $400,000 needed to com­plete the project, mainly through the sale of en­scribed bricks. On Mon­day, the Calvetti family shed its anonymity.

The youths of Amherst and Mont Vernon have needed a turf field for many years, Nick Calvetti said.

"It was my mother’s wish to honor my dad" and to contribute to youth sports, he said.

Nick’s son, Nicholas, a member of the Souhe­gan High School Class of 2011, played football here and remembers Thanks­giving games when the rain would make the field rocky and muddy.

Turf will "definitely be an improvement for all sports," he said.

Amherst and Mont Ver­non, part of the Souhegan School District, have been struggling in recent years to find enough field space and not to overuse the fields they have. The new turf will allow the foot­ball field to have much broader use, not only for football, but also for soc­cer, lacrosse and field hockey and for baseball and softball practice ses­sions, said Travis Warren, chairman of the Stadium Project Committee.

Artificial turf can be plowed in April and al­lows for practice sessions earlier in the spring and later into the fall, with no need to wait for the field to dry.

"All the amenities are here" – lights, parking, snack bar and restrooms, Warren said, and until now, they have had little use.

At a public forum on the project last summer, questions about the safety and comfort of artificial fields came up. Warren said New Jersey and oth­er states have spent a lot of money researching turf and decided it is safe.

A representative of a turf manufacturing company acknowledged that during three or four weeks in the summer, the field will be fairly hot, but during the rest of the year, it will be "soft, warm and comfortable."

There will be a more formal dedication cere­mony in the fall, after the project is complete.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.