The Marcos de Niza football team will have a new field to play on next season, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the NFL Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
The grant, provided by the league in partnership with the Arizona Cardinals, will pay for a refurbishment to Marcos de Niza’s existing field and replace it with Tifway 419 Bermuda grass—a softer and higher-quality playing surface.
"These field refurbishments will ensure athletes have a safe place to come together, play with friends and enjoy the many benefits sports offer," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release.
"The NFL Foundation and LISC remain committed to improving the quality and accessibility of fields for communities nationwide," he added.
A new field is welcome news for Marcos de Niza as it has experienced drainage problems and weed growth on the old grass. Principal Sean McDonald said that he’s grateful for the new field, and that it will help Padres players perform even better.
“Just a really big thank you to the groups that help us in the community, the Arizona Cardinals and the NFL,” McDonald said. “We really are overwhelmed by their generosity and we’re going to make them proud.”
Head coach Paul Moro, Arizona’s all-time winningest high school football coach and a 13-time state champion, said he’s excited about the opportunity for his players to take the new field for the first time in the fall.
Last season was Moro’s first at the helm for Marcos de Niza after 30 years at Blue Ridge and two years at Poston Butte. Moro said he received the news about the grant when he was a guest on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“Due to our players playing really well against Cactus, I was the Cardinals coach of the week,” Moro said. “When I was at the stadium and down on the field pregame, Adam Richman—who is one of the PR people for the Cardinals—came up to me and said, ‘Did you hear?’ ‘Hear what?’ ‘You guys are getting a new field.’”
Moro considers his mission in life is to teach principles of success to his athletes that help them become positive influences in society.
Assistant Principal for Athletics Brian Fleming echoed that sentiment, adding that the new field will have a major impact on a close-knit community.
“The camaraderie and the relationships, the team building and the things they do within their team—for some kids, that is their family,” Fleming said. “I think the values and the things that you can get out of a team, and being a part of that, is irreplaceable.”
Replacing an old, worn-out football field is a long time coming for the Marcos de Niza football program, which is trying to reach the upper echelon of Arizona’s Division II. Ultimately, Fleming and his colleagues view the new field as a testament to the hard work of Padres past.
“To all the people and all the players and all the students that have come before, the class of 2017 and their efforts, they laid the groundwork for what is now happening,” Fleming said. “I think it’s important that they also see the thank you from us just for laying the foundation for these kids that we see on a daily basis.”