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 email@example.com.