End of an Era: Jasper's Ruxer, Softball Field transition to turf

By Kris Norton
Jasper - Monday marked the groundbreaking for a pair of varsity diamonds, ushering in the future of Jasper Wildcat varsity spring sports on synthetic turf.

It's the end of an era. 

That's how it feels to Jasper Head Baseball Coach, and Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer, Terry Gobert, whose stewardship of Alvin C. Ruxer Field stretches back past its most recent renovation in 1991.

"I remember sitting back - and this was parents, this was volunteers, this was donations - and at the end of that day, it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen," Gobert said. "Coach [Tim] Nonte, of Princeton, said, 'You finally understand how a farmer feels'. There's a connection you get, if you're a hard-working baseball coach, with your field."

Jasper Head Coach Terry Gobert, and wife Caroline accept 900th victory award at home plate at Ruxer Field. (Credit: Jasper Athletics)

By Monday afternoon, Ruxer Field's infield dirt and brick dust surrounding its perimeter were scraped away, headed for a new home - Jasper's Junior Varsity Field.

Day One of renovation at Jasper's Ruxer Field

Looking out on the pitch where he's spent more than the last decade leading the Wildcat Softball team, Head Coach Matt Pryor sees years of memories being scraped away from the surface.

"It's hard to turn to the next chapter, there's so many great memories on that field," Pryor said. "A lot of championships, and a lot of heartache. But mostly, what you're going to remember is the relationships that were made on that field that's lasting a lifetime for a lot of players, and for my family as well."

Renovation begins at the Jasper Softball Field, centerfield flag pole stands alone

"We're excited to turn the page," Pryor added. "As difficult as it is to get rid of this old field."

Varsity Softball Field's former boundary of the outfield and infield

Gone are the grueling early morning of field prep, hoping to play baseball around adverse weather.

"People have no idea," Gobert said. "I put in 16-hour days the week of the Semi-State just to get stuff done. It does take a lot of work."

While parting with the past can be difficult for fans and coaches alike, ditching a traditional layout in favor of synthetic turf has its perks.

"In the long run, we're going to get a lot more reps, we're going to get a lot more baseball in," Gobert said. "Practice-wise it's going to be a huge advantage, it's a great investment by our school."

Ruxer Field bullpen amid construction

"We were constantly trying to re-arrange the schedule, or get people up here to work, either with the tarp or put some soil-master down," Pryor said. It's just going to be so much more convenient just to show up, put some bases in, and to play."

Much like Ruxer Field's renovation, the JV Softball Field will be recipient of infield dirt transplanted from the Varsity Softball Complex. The JV field will expand to a full dirt infield, and the warning track will be widened.

The Jasper High School renovations of Alvin C. Ruxer Field and the Varsity Softball Field are slated for a late 2024 completion. The diamonds will make their debut in 2025.

"One thing I love about this town is that it doesn't change just to change," says Gobert. "But, sometimes, it's okay to change."