After 20 years of playing soccer—and maintaining the fields—at Pine Ridge Park in Annandale, the Fairfax Women’s Soccer Association (FWSA) is losing its preferential treatment to use all three fields all day on Saturdays.
“We did manage to keep our Saturday daytime hours for now on two of the fields, just not the one being turfed. It’s a disappointment for sure,” says Head Commissioner Nancy Swanson. FWSA was founded in 1976 and has 42 teams with over 800 players.
FWSA had been allowed to use all three fields at Pine Ridge, located off Woodburn Road, on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until dark. But now that lights are being installed on those fields and synthetic turf is being installed on one of them, the Fairfax County Athletic Council has determined that the Adopt-a-Field agreement with FWSA needs to be changed.
The council recommends that FWSA still get the two natural grass fields all day Saturdays, but “not retain exclusive use of the new turf field at the same time.” Instead, the council said, area youth groups should have access to the synthetic turf field on Saturdays. While the women soccer players will lose about 10 hours of field use on Saturdays, the council said, they could more than make up that time when the lights are installed by playing on weekday evenings. Youth teams generally don’t use the fields after 8 p.m.
The FWSA has taken part in the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Adopt-a-Field program for many years. Under this program, groups provide maintenance for athletic fields, and in return, receive preference in scheduling time for those fields.
The Fairfax Council Athletic Council commended FWSA for its contributions, noting that the group was “instrumental in the acquisition and development of Pine Ridge in the early 1980s” and has maintained the fields since then. Swanson says the group has spent over $20,000 annually on the fields, in addition to contributing countless volunteer hours.
“Without the contributions of organizations such as FWSA, the county inventory of fields would be much smaller and the annual maintenance costs would be much larger,” the Athletic Council acknowledged. In recognition of FWSA’s efforts, the Fairfax County Park Authority several years ago named one of the Pine Ridge fields for Ruth Walton, FWSA’s head commissioner in the early 80s. This field is the one that is being converted to a synthetic turf field.
“We feel that private partnering with the county should continue to be encouraged,” Swanson says. “With increasing costs and budget shortfalls, it would seem very important that Fairfax County continue to encourage collaborative partnerships with organizations willing to step up and support fields and parks.”