October 29 - The majority of the planning has been completed for Paul VI Catholic’s new state-of-the-art artificial turf baseball field that will open in 2020.
The field, which will sit on the school’s new 68-acre campus in South Riding, will have a striped turf surface, a dirt mound, and will include a pitcher-friendly 396-foot power alley to left-center field. The Panthers’ new home will include lights and seating for 250. It will become the third turf playing surface in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference - joining the home parks of St. John’s and Gonzaga in Washington D.C.
The other dimensions of the field will be 329 feet to both foul poles, 380 feet to right-center field and 370 feet to center field, which will include a 12-foot fence that will serve as the batter’s eye. The school’s field hockey team will play its home games at the field in the fall, and its football team will have access to it for practices during the summer and fall.
Paul VI’s new facility will be a significant upgrade over its current multi-sport facility on its 18-acre Fairfax campus, which has for a number of years caused scheduling headaches for the school’s athletic teams. The field will become the fifth in Northern Virginia to feature a 90-foot artificial turf playing surface, joining the diamonds at Barcroft Park in Arlington, Waters Field in Vienna, Justice High School in Falls Church, and South County Middle School in Lorton.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a big part of the planning and I visit the site often, but it’s still surreal,” said Billy Emerson, the Panthers’ baseball coach who doubles as the school’s athletics director. “We’re all very excited.”
While the school won’t open until the fall of 2020, Emerson said the Panthers may have some access to the new field during the 2020 season and that they will likely be able to host their youth camps there that summer.
The move to the sprawling new campus on Braddock Road will allow the school, which had 908 students in 2017-18, to increase its enrollment by over 300. Paul VI opened in the fall of 1983 at what was the original Fairfax High School. The building originally opened in 1936.
“People, tradition and doing things the right way are what make a school and a sports program,” Emerson said. “But it’s a dream come true to add top-notch facilities to the equation.”
Image courtesy of Paul VI Catholic High School