Brown Athletics announced on Tuesday that the playing surface of the Brown stadium will be upgraded to artificial grass before the start of the coming season. The new playing surface will be named Richard Gouse Field at Brown Stadium in honor of the project’s lead donor, Richard Gouse 68, who was inducted as an honorary member of the Brown Athletics Hall of Fame for his contributions to the program.
Although the team has played matches on grass in the past, they are already practicing on the same grass model that will be used in the stadium. This will be the latest and greatest model, said Head Coach James Perry. It’s what we practice every day.
Artificial grass promotes speed more than real grass, a focus for the current team. Speed is a Perrys priority and this field suits that kind of team, Gouse said. With artificial grass you can really benefit from a team that is fast as opposed to traditional grasses.
Having a perfect playing surface, which is what artificial turf is, will be great for us as a team, said quarterback and team captain EJ Perry 21.5. With turf you can definitely play faster, and that’s one of the things we train for. We want to play fast.
Coach Perry agreed that speed was at the top of the team’s preparation for the upcoming season. Speed permeates every decision we make, added James Perry. That means recruiting players who are fast, and once they get here at Brown, we’ve designed our player development program to cultivate speed. It only makes sense that we would then get married on a surface that would show that.
Brown is the last of the Ivies to use artificial turf in their stadium. The team’s previous playing surface was an irregularly shaped grass pitch that had been heavily used for nearly a century. The field was nearly 100 years old and had a dome in the center, Gouse said. It was a strange, non-traditional field. You could actually see it rise and fall from sideline to sideline.
In addition to leveling out the playing field, the new turf will be immune to the degradation common in turf as games progress. The lawn does get a little beat up during the game, halfback and team captain Allen Smith said 22. Later in the game, more slips happen and it’s harder to make some of those cuts you might make early in the game. If the grass is shredded, you won’t have great traction on the surface.
Sub-optimal conditions during the winters in Providence exacerbated the problems with turf fields, putting players at greater risk of injury. You’d be playing late in the year and it would be a mud bowl, James Perry said. The amount of twitching you would have when the dirt comes up is huge. And if you caught real rain, it wouldn’t be a good surface to play on and not a good surface to watch the game on.
I think this will allow for much longer seasonal use of the field, Gouse added. And there are other alternatives that I think it could be used for and I hope will be used.
A member of the university’s sports foundation, Gouse has been involved with the football program for over 50 years and has mentored many of the team’s players. I’ve known him for 25 years, but even longer than that he has been a central figure in the lives of many footballers, said coach Perry. So that’s a nice aspect of him being the lead donor and the field named after him is just a really active guy in Brown football.
A number of Brown alums contributed to the project along with Gouse, including Paul Choquette 60, fellow athletic hall of fame inductee Paul Choquette 60. Paul was a mentor of mine when I was a student here, said James Perry. So it was really nice that he left.
For Gouse, the new playing surface is symbolic of the university’s investment in the success of the football program. Having watched Ivy League football my entire adult life, I can tell you that Coach Perry is a winner and he will make sure this team wins, Gouse said. To achieve this, a commitment from the university is also required. And I think Christina Paxson’s hiring (Vice President of Athletics) M. Grace Calhoun, one of the most respected and successful sports directors in the country, speaks most eloquently about that dedication.
President Paxson is really committed to doing things at a first-class level in athletics and across the school, said James Perry. That leadership that starts with her has been tremendous and this project would certainly not be possible without the support of President Paxsons.
While only freshmen have been able to train on campus over the summer, the entire team is eager to prepare for their first game on the new field against University of Rhode Island on September 18. Even the camp practices and every aspect of (training) is going to feel so great, said EJ Perry. There will be a tremendous sense of gratitude and a tremendous sense of happiness for all the things that could be done next year.
We’ve made great strides since the last time we played in 2019, Smith said. It will be almost two years since our last game when we kick off against URI on the new pitch. On the hunt for a ring, the goal is to achieve a championship.
Gouse, who has also circled September 18 on his calendar, shares Smith’s optimism. I’ve seen the history of athletics at Brown for a long time, the dedication to the program just created is exceptional, Gouse said. And you will see great things happen in the coming years.
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