by Tom HardestY | RECORD-COURIER
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Glinatsis Stadium in Streetsboro has brought plenty of excitement during the fall.
Thanks to a four-man maintenance crew, the stadium has been full of electricity ever since the football season began in August.
Jim Washinski, Facilities Director at Streetsboro the past two years, casts a glance across the field as his crew stencils in the yard-line numbers down the visiting side of the field.
"It's very labor intensive, a lot of movement," said Washinski.
"Each hash mark is two stencils and you have to pick up the stencil and put it back down 160 times -- just for the hashes. But it looks really good when it's done."
It's that attention to detail which Washinski brought to the job when he was hired in April of 2010 that has not only helped to modernize Glinatsis, but also turn it into a stadium the entire Streetsboro community can be proud of.
"When I took over, this place was falling apart," said Washinski, who served as Maintenance Manager at Hudson Country Club for five years prior to coming to Streetsboro. "The first thing I did was replace the goal posts.
"They were rotted and there were birds literally nesting in the elbows of the posts. You should have seen this place.
"When I came in, the administration let me do what I needed to do and I'm thankful for that."
Washinski does have a vested interest in the quality of the facilities in the school district: He is a 1989 graduate of Streetsboro High School and was a decorated athlete for the Rockets. His wife Jodi and son Stephen are also Streetsboro grads and his daughter Lindsay currently is a student at the high school.
"There is a pride factor, because I went to school here and I played on this field," he said.
"And I think the kids actually play better because of the field when it looks good. They love it. When you do right by the kids, you can't go wrong."
While excited to return to his alma mater in the spring of 2010, Washinski was under no illusions as to the amount of work that awaited him and his crew. Repairs, upgrades and modernization no doubt would be daunting.
But nothing could have prepared Washinski for what happened shortly after becoming Streetsboro's Facilities Director.
"About six weeks after I got the job, there was a fire in the high school gym," said Washinski of the June 1, 2010 blaze that severely damaged the gymnasium. "I literally walked into a firestorm."
The gym has been rebuilt, and Washinski and maintenance-crew members Randy Clark and Jason Starcher have since set about bringing Glinatsis up to speed.
In two years the stadium has received a facelift of mammoth proportions, including the field itself, which sports a brand-new playing surface of Kentucky Bluegrass.
"You should have seen this field last year," said Washinski. "The drainage system failed and we have pictures of us standing in ankle-deep water.
"This summer, we stripped the entire sod surface and brought in about 500 cubic yards of sand and soil mix.
"Before, we had an undulating playing surface of about two feet from one area of the field to another. That's how bad it was.
"We replaced the bleachers and pressbox this summer, and we just put a new scoreboard in a couple weeks ago. I knew it would be a difficult job when I came in; I figured it would be a five-year job to get where it needed to be. I think we're getting there."
There is still work to be done.
"We're hoping next year we'll at least replace the lighting," said Washinski. "It's 40 years old and antiquated."
But enough progress has been made that he and his crew can begin focusing more on cosmetic issues rather than just structural.
"At the beginning of the season, the field was so green it looked like carpet," he said. "It just popped. Some people thought we got artificial turf.
"We've had a number of events on this field so far this season.
"We have seventh- and eighth-grade football, middle school soccer, high school soccer, freshman football, JV [junior varsity] football and varsity football. It's held up pretty well."
Washinski and his crew have gone to great lengths to professionalize the actual look of the field at Glinatsis, complete with hash marks up and down each sideline; big, eye-catching numbers; and a large rocket logo at midfield that Washinski and his crew were busy spraying with blue, yellow and white paint as the final touch for game-night preparations.
"The paint we use has halogen properties, so it's reflective," Washinski said. "When the lights come on at night, the colors just pop."
Washinski watches the forecast closely to determine which day is most ideal for field preparations.
"Then the task begins of getting the field in tip-top game shape all over again.
"Depending on weather, it takes anywhere from five to seven hours to get the field ready," he said.
"We redo the field before every game and we also have to fertilize every three weeks throughout the season."
And there is the mowing, which Washinski approaches as both functional and cosmetic.
"I do the mowing and I love it," he said. "I like to make the contour of the grass different every five yards.
"I start on the sideline and roll the grass one way across the field to the other sideline, then I turn and roll the grass the other way the next five yards, so it looks like two different shades of green.
"It gives you that light-dark, light-dark effect. It looks good."
With Washinski's five-year plan in full swing, he's already looking down the road to other projects and subtle touches to improve on what has already been accomplished with Glinatsis.
"Next year, I'd like to paint the word 'Rockets' in each end zone," he said. "Right now, the end zones are empty.
"Long-term, we want to put an all-weather track in, and there has been talk of putting artificial turf in at some point. But that's hard to do when you have so many other needs."
Washinski then glances around the field at the finished product.
The field is lined, striped and fully painted, the blue, yellow and white rocket logo at midfield gleaming in the midday sun.
"This field looks exactly how I envisioned it," said Washinski.