When I played sports in high school, it felt like our practice field was something like a second home. After all, you spend so much time there; even if your team plays its home games somewhere else, all of the blood, sweat and tears of practices are left on that field. Some days during the summer, you might spend six or seven hours at that field during two-a-days. It’s where bonds are formed, and where teams come together.
So that’s why it must be difficult for two footballs teams to share the same practice field. That’s what’s happening with Lynn Tech and the brand new KIPP football squad, ready to take on its first season as a program.
The two teams have split McManus Field next to Lynn Tech for the entire preseason, since the Panthers don’t have a field to call their own.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s gracious of Tech to share its field. It would have been within the Tigers’ rights, in my opinion, to want the space to themselves. But despite the intra-city rivalries between teams, there’s a lot of mutual respect in the football landscape in Lynn, and it’s not surprising that Tech wanted to help solve one of the new program’s problems.
But seeing another team across the park cannot be easy for either side. Can you imagine Classical taking up the far end of Keaney Park while English is holding its workouts? It wouldn’t fly. I’d imagine it feels like sharing a room with a sibling when neither wants to be sharing a room; you lay down some duct tape down the middle and stick to your own side, begrudgingly.
Even more interesting is the fact that Tech and KIPP will play each other in Week 5 of the new season. KIPP is joining Tech in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small division, so the game is as meaningful for both sides as any.
The situation is a complicated one. Tech coach James Runner expressed that it’s not easy to look over and see another team on the turf that has belonged to just the Tigers for so long. Football may be the worst sport to have to share a field, with all of the preparation that goes into a game plan. You wouldn’t want a future opponent getting a sneak peek at your plays and vice versa.
However, this is the situation that both Tech and KIPP are in, and you have to give credit to both sides for making it work. As long as there are no catfights between the Tigers and Panthers.
Adding another team to the fabric of Lynn football means Manning Field will be busier than ever this fall. With 10 soccer teams and five football teams all calling Manning home, there won’t be a quiet day there.
That means that Lynn fans are in for some jam-packed days at Manning. Next Saturday is the first of those: English football will host Beverly in its season opener at 2, and the final games of the Lynn City Soccer Tournament will also be held the same day.
It also means, with another football team joining the landscape, that there will be football three nights a week in Lynn, at least to start the season. KIPP will play the first three games of its schedule on Thursday nights, with each of those games being played at Manning. Tech will play all of its games on Saturdays this season.
It’s a safe bet that if you’re looking for something to do on a fall afternoon at Lynn, there will be always be something happening at Manning Field.
Over in Swampscott, the Big Blue will be going through something similar. Blocksidge Field used to be the football team’s turf; the field hockey team played its home games there, but the soccer team played at Swampscott High.
But with the new turf at Blocksidge now in place, the soccer teams will be playing at least some of its games there as well. While that may not affect the football team much, it’s a new addition nonetheless.
Getting a new field also changes how the preseason workouts go. The Big Blue haven’t even been able to step onto the new field, with the final touches still being finished in preparation for Swampscott’s home opener on September 16.
Strangely enough, the football team will actually be the last Big Blue squad to play a game on the new field. The girls soccer team get the first crack at it on September 9 against Monument. The field hockey team, likely the team that the new turf will benefit the most, will host Everett on September 12. The boys soccer team will play its first home game back at Jackson Field behind Swampscott High, but will still hit the turf at Blocksidge a day before the football team.