Youth football to play on OR field, despite school committee concerns

Sep 15, 2021

With the fall comes football, and the Old Rochester Youth Football league needs somewhere to play.

Kristina Medeiros represented the league at a Sept. 14 Old Rochester School Committee meeting, where she requested usage of the high school’s football field for two eight hour days so the league could play home games. The league is broken up into divisions by age, so teams play one after the other for a full day.

To some school committee members, however, two Sundays of field use was a hefty request with potential to harm the field.

“This is not a matter of the quality of the Old Rochester Youth Football organization,” Committee Chair Heather Burke said, adding that her worry was that the grass field would become damaged, dangerous or unusable with too much use.

But Athletic Director Bill Tilden, OR Principal Michael Devoll and Bulldogs Coach Byrce Guilbeault each vouched for the organization.

Tilden noted that while he will continue to advocate for a switch to turf fields — which were once proposed at the school but shot down after a temporary tax hike to pay for them was denied in a Rochester special election — new groundskeeping measures including an updated fertilizing method have made the grass field strong enough to withstand the youth league games.

“Many of our families donated to the turf field,” Medeiros noted, adding that not allowing the teams to play at OR is “like we’re punishing the children for an adult decision.

While committee member Jim Muse felt that the field could withstand the youth league’s request, he noted that the field might not be so strong next year.

“Lack of quality recreational fields in the Tri-Town is highlighted by [the youth league request],” he said, adding that bringing all youth sports to OR can’t be a long-term solution.

Still, Muse said, “I believe this is worth the chance.

The committee ultimately voted — with Burke as the only dissenting member — to allow Old Rochester Youth Football use of the field, including the power to revoke due to weather, scheduling or other conflicts.