Blue turf fits Luther football

Norse first D-III program with non-green field

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DECORAH — The school colors are dominated by blue.

Luther’s sports fans are affectionately referred to as the “Sea of Blue.”

The Norse football players are known for a blue-collar mentality that has supplied the hard-nosed attitude that goes along with a triple-option rushing offense.

When it came time to make field improvements, the idea to add blue field turf seemed like a good fit.

“It’s really symbolic in that sense,” Luther senior center and former Decorah prep Sean Trewin said. “Our team is made up of guys that may not be super talented but we work hard.

“We have three colors. (Blue) stands out.”

Luther christened its new blue FieldTurf with a 44-20 victory over St. Olaf two weeks ago and opens Iowa Conference play Saturday at home against preseason league favorite Dubuque at 1 p.m.

“It really fits into how we use the blue,” Luther Coach Aaron Hafner said. “Being blue collar and you hear all these little cliché things.

“Every time we walk out onto the field, we tell our kids to be thankful for what we have and make sure to practice to the best of our ability to make sure we put a product on the field that represents Luther College.”

Fundraising for a new turf field began last fall. As the project progressed, donors suggested the blue playing surface and research began. Boise State owns a federal trademark on non-green fields, attempting to protect its uniqueness.

A few schools have non-green fields, including blue at University of New Haven (NCAA Division II) and red at Eastern Washington University (FCS).

“It was just an idea at the time in early spring,” Hafner said. “Our lead donor was super excited about the idea of going blue turf. From there, we took off and ran with it. About that time, Boise State gave us permission to use blue turf. Here we are today on a beautiful field.”

Luther became the first NCAA Division III program with a blue field. Legacy Field at Carlson Stadium was finished as the players arrived for preseason camp.

“Our kids are excited,” Hafner said. “We weren’t sure it was going to happen so fast. We thought 2018, but our donors stepped up and wanted to get this project done this year.”

The project cost $1.7 million. The field was even more impressive than what Trewin expected.

“My heart melted,” Trewin said. “We knew it was going to be super cool. We were in awe of how soft it was.”

The game against St. Olaf included a flyover and the choir sang the national anthem. Trewin’s father, Pat, was an all-conference player for the Norse in 1991. He was overwhelmed by how it looked and added to the scenic area that surrounds campus.

“They (alumni) were excited to see the field and what it does for our team,” the younger Trewin said. “It brought them back. They liked what it meant.

“He hadn’t had time to see it before the game. Seeing it from the stands, it seemed to endure the Norse spirit.”

Luther (1-1) faces a tough task with the Spartans (3-0, 1-0 IIAC). Dubuque opened conference competition with a 27-24 victory against Loras last week. The Spartans scored 69 total points in two non-conference games.

Hafner said Dubuque is fast and physical.

“There is a reason they are picked atop of the conference,” Hafner said of Dubuque. “They have a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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