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High Schools: Sage breaks ground for new turf, track

May 08, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

J.R Tolver on Monday scanned the Sage Hill School field used by the football, soccer and lacrosse programs.

"This is what happens every year," said Tolver, the football coach and boys' athletic director at the school, who pointed toward many missing patches of grass and unlevel parts on the field.

"Basically at this time of the year, depending on the rain and the weather, the field is torn up by now. So we have to resod and close the field down for months at a time and it just doesn't allow us to maximize usage of it."

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That will change come August, when Ramer Field will not have any grass, just a new artificial turf.

Tolver said he envisioned a turf field when he took over at Sage Hill three years ago. He and Megan Cid, the girls' athletic director, talked about it and the impact the playing surface might have on Sage Hill's athletic programs.

Thanks to a generous donation of more than $1 million from Gary and Lisa Jabara and their family to renovate Ramer Field, Tolver said Sage Hill and the community would reap the benefits.

The Jabara family joined school officials with shovels on Monday for the groundbreaking ceremony to the start of Ramer Field's makeover, which also includes a new running track.

Gary dug out a chunk of the field in which his daughter, Madison, played on with the girls' soccer team this junior season. She and many student-athletes at Sage Hill will be playing on a new field by Mondo Worldwide next season that reproduces the characteristics of natural turf.

"I think that it does go back to the fact that there's not enough athletic facilities, especially in Newport Beach," Gary said of the reason why his family donated to Sage Hill. "Irvine has so many nice facilities and some of the other schools are blessed with public funds … and they're able to do so much more. Sage, albeit it is a private school, a lot people don't understand that it costs an enormousness amount of money to manage a school and run a school, and hire teachers. We just thought [donating] was the right thing to do. There will be more kids running track, because they don't run track here. Kids have to go to … Corona del Mar to run track or [UC Irvine].

"I think it's more of a community kind of facility, than just a Sage facility. That was really important … for [Sage Hill Head of School] Gordon [McNeill] and the rest of Gordon's team that this was something that would transform the school into more of a community place."

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