The old grass field at Marblehead High School was in sad shape. The surface was poor and the underlying foundation unstable. Despite the best efforts of the Parks & Recreation Department, it had become nearly impossible to maintain and prepare the field in a way that provided a reliable, safe surface for our athletes. The problem had been known for many years. In 2010, members of the Marblehead community initiated an effort to raise funds through a Proposition 2 ½ override to address the problem and raise the necessary funds to construct a turf field. The question made it to the ballot, but was soundly defeated. The Marblehead All-Sports Foundation was founded in 2012 because the message was clear – public dollars were not going to be available for this type of project. After an intense fund raising effort, MASF succeeded in raising the funds for a new synthetic turf surface at Piper Field and it opened in the Fall of 2013.
On a June day in 2013 that had featured some of the stormiest weather of the year, the Marblehead All-Sports Foundation held the groundbreaking ceremony for the installation of synthetic turf at Piper Field. Foundation members donned foul weather gear and mud boots, and brought along their biggest umbrellas, as they had promised to put shovels in the ground, “rain or shine.” Then something miraculous happened – the clouds parted and the sun began to shine down on the group. Off in the distance, an absolutely gorgeous rainbow formed and as if it were seeking the pot of gold everyone in Marblehead worked so hard to build for this project, one end of the arc found itself resting squarely on Piper Field!
When it came time to put the first shovels in the ground, four young Marbleheaders were invited up to do the honors. They were Maddie Erskine, who organized a “Turf’s Up” bracelet campaign; Derek and Devon Testa, who spent a weekend raising donations at spots around town; and finally, Chris Piper, Jr., son of SSGT Christopher Piper, for whom the field is named. And with four quick stokes of shovels, the project was officially underway!
Less than one month later, the rugged turf that had caused aggravation to many a Marblehead athlete was gone and the project well underway. It was a proud moment for all Marbleheaders!
After a summer of long days and hard work at Piper Field, what had started out as a beaten down, lumpy field that never seemed able to grow grass went though a huge transformation! After weeks of excavation and rebuilding a new base, the the turf was completed and on Thursday September 12, 2013 there was be a double header featuring a boys’ soccer game in the afternoon and a football game that night. A brief ceremony was held before the football game to formally re-dedicate Piper Field. An honor guard was in attendance to recognize the memory of Staff Sergeant Christopher Piper.
At the 2013 Thanksgiving Game, the Marblehead All-Sports Foundation unveiled a Donor Recognition Plaque on the wall of the high school, across from Piper Field, recognizing everyone who donated more than $1,000 to the project. The field is a huge success and has been in almost constant use since it opened in September. The plaque was unveiled during a brief ceremony before the National Anthem. With your help, this is just the first of many projects MASF hopes to undertake for our athletes. Thank you for your continued support!