For years there has been a debate on whether or not Connor Darcey Field should put up lights. The debate has gone back and forth, between students’ urge to strengthen their community through nighttime games, and board members’ concerns for the environment, and neighbors’ requests for privacy.
But once again this fall, no night games have been played there.
In February, the school board voted to expand plans for lighting at Darcey Field, and as recently as August, they released a report, which listed the concerns and strategies for putting up lights.
Additionally, The Natural Resource Committee (NRC), a local committee that has concerns for the environment and local wildlife, expressed concerns about trees being trimmed or taken down, and the impact that putting these lights up would have on the wildlife surrounding them.
The NRC has sent out surveys to surrounding neighbors of Darcey field letting them give their opinions of the lights being put up. Issues such as traffic, noise, visual impact, and pedestrian safety have been at the head of the discussion. In order for lighting to pass and for them to be installed, feedback from neighbors is crucial. Once input is received the NRC will work to accommodate the needs of the neighbors and work from there.
Lighting is turned on seasonally in order to protect and preserve the wildlife around it. Yet another problem that has taken down proposals year after year is the carbon emissions the lights would give off. The school committee has carefully selected Musco lights, which give emit significantly less carbon emissions than previous ones used previously
The school board proposal includes twenty games for the high school, four to five-night games, and 1-night practice for Football, two to four nights games, and two, night practices for Boys & Girls Soccer, Field Hockey would have one to two night games and one night practice, and in the spring Boys & Girls, Lacrosse would have two to four nights games and two night practices per year.
Tom Seifert ’22, one of the four captains on the varsity football team, Seifert believes that putting up lights would most definitely be a boost to team morale.
“We love having night games so we can have a big student section to cheer us on. The energy that the crowd brings when we play on Friday nights really gets us going, and it would be amazing if we could get that atmosphere on our home turf too,” said Seifert.
Crowds at the football games have only increased alongside other fall sports teams with the boost from the Wellesley High Fan Section Instagram page. Aptly named “Wellesley Red Zone”, Wellesley’s turnout for games has increased dramatically and the fan support has been immense across all sports. Many think that the number of fans turning out to both home or away games for the high school teams has increased the pressure and debate to have lights.
“We thrive off the energy that the crowd gives us, whether it be chanting our names or getting loud for a big play. It’s a good feeling to see your friends and all these people come out to support you, and many more people would be able to attend home games if they could be at night,” said Seifert.
Mr. Jesse Davis, head coach of the varsity football team, has been a part of many community movements and is a big supporter of the lights.
“Not only would it be a great experience for the players of all the high school outdoor sports teams, but it would greatly enhance the community aspect of team sports and bring together families in town. It is also a great opportunity to bring together families of our students who don’t live in Wellesley. Having the games played later in the evenings allows for families to travel into Wellesley to watch their children and build connections within the community. ”
Although the anticipated lights are still in discussion, Darcey Field will still be getting an upgrade as plans to install team rooms, and more restrooms have been approved, all with the goal to make Darcey Field a place to build a community where everyone from fans to the players on the field can have a positive experience.
“I am a big supporter of having night games and making it an event for all people involved in the town. The football team would love to play on Fridays under the lights and would love to attend and see other sports being played at night as well,” said Davis.