The oldest school in the Sweetwater Union High School District will now have the district’s newest athletic field.
Gala ceremonies are scheduled Friday at Sweetwater High School to dedicate the school’s new state-of-the-art Turf Field and all-weather track oval.
It promises to be a meeting of the old and the new as the ribbon is cut to officially dedicate the field at Gail Devers Stadium and welcome a new generation of athletes.
Sweetwater High School is entering its 93rd year but its student-athletes have continued to play on the aging natural grass surface and compete on the hard dirt track at the stadium.
The new artificial field replaces the old and battered natural grass turf that has been in use — and misuse — for decades.
The new Turf Field is expected to cut grounds-keeper maintenance expenses at the National City school.
School administrators are inviting all SuHi alumni to attend Friday’s event. Gates open at 3 p.m. with music and food sales for early parking and seating. The dedication ceremony begins at 5 p.m.
Three representatives from the San Diego Chargers will be on hand for the ribbon cutting: Kimberley Layton, director of public affairs and corporate communty relations, safety Darrell Stuckey and Red Devil alum and former 11-year NFL veteran Dan Saleaumua.
A celebration of past San Diego Section champions, including Salaeumua, will accompany the ribbon cutting.
Alumni athletes in football, girls and boys soccer and girls and boys track and field are expected to ring the new field during the pre-game festivities.
The Red Devils football team will take their new field at 7 p.m. against the Hilltop Lancers.
Hilltop is the lone remaining undefeated Metro Conference team and will be looking to record its sixth consecutive victory to kick off the 2013 season.
Sweetwater enters the game with a 1-4 record and will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak after kicking off the season with a lot of promise buoyed by a 42-0 non-league victory at La Jolla Country Day.
Work on the new Sweetwater field began in June following the conclusion of the track and field season. The field was originally scheduled to be unveiled on Sept. 20, but construction delays forced a delay.
The Red Devils have two more home games scheduled before regular season play ends next month.
Sweetwater is scheduled to host defending Metro-Pacific League champion Mater Dei Catholic on Oct. 25 and also host league rival Castle Park on Nov. 1.
The Sweetwater football team will hope to draw on the inspiration accompanying Friday's ceremony to usher in a winning mode to end the season.
The words etched onto the school's iconic lantern — SuHi Pride — will be at a premium on Friday, to be sure.
There's more to get excited about besides football. The new field also features a nine-lane all-weather track surface that rings the football field. Built into the infrastructure are long jump and triple jump sand pits, a pole-vaulting area and a high jump skirt.
The new field will also be used for soccer matches during the upcoming winter sports season as well as track and field during the spring sports season.
Currently, Sweetwater does not field girls field hockey or boys and girls lacrosse teams — other sports that also use similar artificial surfaces to play on at other district schools.
Could the new field be a catalyst to get those other sports going on campus?
It certainly opens a new era at the National City school, regardless.
Tickets include both the ceremony and the game. Prices are $6 for adults; $4 for children 6-12, adults 60 and older and student with a valid school ID card; children 5 and younger are free.
Sweetwater High School is located at 2900 Highland Avenue. For more information, contact the school at 474-9700.