What does the University Hall Turf Field, the facility where the UVA varsity field hockey team practices and competes, have in common with the Riverbank Arena in London? Both are surfaced with AstroTurf 12, the premier synthetic turf for field hockey. Both are bright blue. And both hosted Olympic field hockey teams.
On June 18, Team USA played Argentina in an exhibition match. "Everybody was overwhelmed by the loud, standing-room-only crowd that came to see the game," says Michele Madison, coach of the UVA field hockey team.
"Our turf was installed about a year ago, so to get practice on a surface similar to the one they'll play on during the Olympics, it made sense to come to UVA," says Jason Bauman, associate athletics director for facilities and operations. "Plus, with two current student-athletes from UVA on the national team, it made the event really special." Why is the UVA field blue? "The color creates better contrast, hence a safer game," says Madison.
Why is the Olympic field in London blue? "You can simply see the ball better on television," says Madison. "The ball can travel up to 70 miles an hour in the women's game and 100 in the men's game. On the blue turf, the ball pops out. A yellow ball will be used in the Olympics to provide a greater contrast from the white lines. Holland, Germany and India have all installed blue turf fields for their Olympic preparations and future televised games."
Argentina is ranked No. 2 in the world, while the U.S. is No. 10. The result of the June 18 match was a 1-1 tie. In the Olympics, Team USA pulled off a 1-0 upset win over Argentina, which went on to win a silver medal.