The Lakewood Lancers have been the nomads of the Moore League for the past few years, finding temporary homes across the city while their brand new field and track were under construction. For practices or games, the Lancers have gone without a home field advantage–until now.
Lakewood is the latest LBUSD high school to receive a major athletic facilities upgrade, getting a brand new AstroTurf field and all-weather track inside John Ford Stadium.
“I think it’s really exciting for our kids and for our community,” said Lakewood athletics director Mike Wadley, who has been heavily involved with the installation of the new facility. “We haven’t had a track meet here in three years, we haven’t had a football game or a soccer match on campus in two years, so it’s really big for those kids.
“Friday Night Lights will now be on campus instead of going to another school, and that’s a big cultural thing. Football is a flagship sport on any campus, so that’s huge for us.”
From the time the renovations started until now, Lakewood’s athletic department has grown by two sports with the addition of boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. That was the first sport to officially compete on the new field, bringing in a new era of Lancers sports earlier this week.
While Lakewood’s new facility has similarities to others around the league, it also has a few unique features which set it apart. Instead of using traditional rubber particles as infill underneath the turf, Lakewood’s field uses hemp fibers, which are more absorbent and also help reduce field temperature on hot days. The hemp also provides more shock absorption to help athletes make quick turns and cuts on the field, a feature Wadley says has drawn positive reviews from students.
The Lancers also have a brand new discus ring and net, which prepares them to host CIF track meets on campus in the future. Lakewood’s all-weather polyurethane track by Rekortan is a nine-lane track that’s brick red with black exchange zones.
In addition to the new surfaces, there are other amenities around the stadium like the new LED scoreboard behind the north end zone. The Lancers also have a secondary scoreboard for track meets which can display times for each lane.
The new goalposts are a welcome upgrade in and of themselves, and they can also be lowered via hydraulics. There’s also a brand new sound system which has wireless capabilities, meaning referees could wear a mic during games to announce their calls to the crowd.
The actual stadium saw some important upgrades as well, adding a ramp for spectators that leads to a new wheelchair-accessible seating area at the base of the bleachers.
But the improvements at Lakewood aren’t stopping with the field and track. The gym and locker room complex is currently under construction, with additional planned upgrades to follow. In a few years, the campus could look completely transformed.
“It will be great for the former Lancers too, because they get to come back and see their school as a brand new school,” Wadley said. “With the new pool going in, the weight room, the gym, softball field, new tennis courts–that’ll be really great for us and the City of Lakewood.”
With the completion of the new field, Lakewood is hosting a celebration this Saturday, March 25, and rededicating the stadium for former Lancers football coach, John Ford. Doors open at 4 p.m. with an intersquad football scrimmage scheduled to start at 4:30. Food will be available for purchase and everyone is welcome to attend.
The festivities will also include some notable guest speakers including Lakewood mayor Jeff Wood, and there will be performances by the Lakewood band, choir, the cheer, dance, and drill teams. and ROTC.
Finally, there will be an alumni football game scheduled to start at about 6:30 before the event wraps up an hour later.
“We’re showing our respects to Coach Ford for all that he did to lay the foundation for the expectations and traditions of Lakewood football,” Lakewood football coach and alum Justin Utupo said. “It’s exciting we’re able to honor him and bring the alumni back on campus to connect with our current players.”
Photos courtesy Lakewood High School vis AstroTurf & Rekorten