NWC nears fund-raising goal for Korver Field project

Only about $25,000 remains to be raised to fully fund the Korver Field project. The installation of an artificial playing surface, FieldTurf, was accompanied by naming the playing field in honor of former Head Football Coach Larry Korver and his wife, Betty.

Partnering with the MOC-Floyd Valley School District and the city of Orange City, Northwestern installed the new field last summer—and has already reaped the benefits. The durable surface allowed the scheduling of additional football games, soccer games, a marching band contest, and additional college and community activities. This winter, the Red Raider baseball and softball teams took advantage of the mild winter to prepare for spring break trips by practicing on the turf, while the football team used it for spring practice.

“In less than a year on the new field, we have seen what a great asset the new surface is to the athletic department and the whole community,” says Jay Wielenga, Northwestern’s director of development. “We have gotten a lot of mileage out of it.”

A considerable portion of the total project cost for the new playing surface was funded by the MOC-Floyd Valley School District, using funds—restricted for building projects and site improvements—from the one percent local option sales tax implemented in Sioux County last year. Northwestern has been contacting alumni and friends to raise the additional $400,000 needed to complete the project; $375,000 has been committed.

“There’s just a small amount of money left to be raised, and we encourage anyone still interested in this opportunity to honor Larry and Betty Korver to contact us,” says Wielenga.

It’s appropriate that the playing field in the De Valois Stadium complex would carry the Korvers’ name, says Athletic Director Barry Brandt. “Larry and Betty Korver have been synonymous with the name Northwestern for many, many years because they projected the best of Northwestern—commitment and caring for young people. Not only did they impact these young people’s lives, they also impacted Northwestern by developing a program that became recognized nationally. It’s a great privilege for us to put the Korvers’ name on this facility. There’s no better place on this campus it could go.”

“We are definitely honored,” says Larry Korver. “This is something far beyond what we ever expected.”

Korver was head coach of the Northwestern football team from 1967 to 1994, compiling a 212-77-6 record. A member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, Korver led the Red Raiders to NAIA national championships in 1973 and 1983. His teams finished as runners-up in 1972, 1979 and 1984; advanced to the national semifinals in 1982, 1985 and 1994; and qualified for the playoffs three other seasons.

An Orange City native, Korver graduated from Northwestern Junior College in 1954, earned a bachelor’s degree at South Dakota State, and coached high school football at Walnut Grove, Minn.; Orange City; and Luverne, Minn. He retired from Northwestern in 1994.

The FieldTurf surface features polyethylene “grass” fibers surrounded and stabilized by a special infill blend of smooth, rounded silica sand, rubber granules and Nike Grind made of re-ground athletic shoe material. FieldTurf is used by 18 NFL teams and a number of NCAA Division I schools, such as the University of Nebraska and the University of Michigan. Several Great Plains Athletic Conference schools have FieldTurf surfaces or are in the process of installing them.

“Playing on a surface such as this has been shown to significantly decrease injuries to the head and spine and to cut down on injuries to knees and ankles as well,” says Brandt. “In addition, this will greatly reduce our expenses for maintaining the field. Before installing the new surface, we spent from $15,000 to $20,000 a year on maintenance. Now, the lines are painted and there’s no grass to grow. The company will do all the maintenance for the first five years of this agreement. Afterward, our maintenance costs will be no more than $1,000 a year.”

While Korver Field doesn’t serve as the football team’s primary practice field, Head Coach Orv Otten says the all-weather surface is great for practice settings when needed at three distinct times of the year. “In the fall, we’re able to practice later in the evening under the lights and avoid practicing in the heat of the day. Late in the season—when the snow, rain and cold get to be a concern for us in practice—we now have a much dryer surface. And then again in the spring when the snow is melting, we can get out on the dry surface at the game field and be able to practice in good conditions there.”

The De Valois Stadium complex includes a football/track locker room and concession building and an eight-lane polyurethane track constructed two years ago. Future plans include renovating the existing home bleachers and expanding the press box.