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Sweaty seasiders celebrate the opening of BYUH’s new turf field

Under the hot summer sun, Laie community members and BYU–Hawaii students celebrated the grand opening of a new turf field on campus July 1. Athletes played a jumble of games, including rugby, soccer and spike ball, while spectators enjoyed pizza and ice cream bars on the sidelines. Not a frown could be found among the excited group.

Three students playing soccer on the turf field wearing basketball shorts and T-shirts. One student is raising his arm and another is lying on the ground.
Students enjoy playing soccer on the brand new turf field.

The turf field project began in Fall 2020 and officially opened Thursday afternoon, July 1, 2021, said Brandyn Akana, head of Sports and Seasider Activities. “[The new field] helps us as we plan and organize events for the students.

“In our department,” Akana said, “our whole goal is to keep students engaged. We want them to relieve stress, have fun and make friends. This turf field opens up a lot of different opportunities to do that.”

He added the turf field is made with the latest technology using coconut husk and sand, which helps the field stay cool in the sun.

Ethan Magalei, a sophomore from Hawaii studying business management–marketing, works in promotions for Seasider Activities. He said he expects the field will mostly be used for rugby and soccer, but they are planning a lot of events to take place on the new field, such as archery, dances, water activities and more.

Akana said students can look forward to playing intramural sports, such as rugby, soccer, flag football and ultimate Frisbee, on the turf field this Fall Semester. Students can register for an intramural team on BYUH’s Engage site:

Caleb Earnshaw, an alumnus of BYUH who attended the event, said he played intramural soccer, ultimate Frisbee and other sports on the old turf field as a student. “It was really grassy, and any time it rained, it got super muddy. The back part wasn’t much of a field, which made the end zone scary,” Earnshaw described.

Despite the bumpy, slippery field, Earnshaw said nobody ever really hurt anything but their pride. He recalled, “Lots of sliding, lots of tripping, but it was super fun.”

“[Playing on the new turf field] feels like you’re a professional athlete, playing in front of thousands of people,” Earnshaw said. “It makes it way more fun. Now you can play way harder and feel better about it.”

Earnshaw said in comparison to the games he played as a student on the old fields, “this will make playing intramurals something people actually go to and watch because they can come and sit and watch the field.”

Outside the field, spectators can sit on benches among beds of plants or stroll on paved pathways that wrap around freshly planted trees. The field is overlooked by giant light poles, allowing people to play all night.

Four students wearing red T-shirts play soccer on the new turf field. One student is trying to score a goal.
A student tries to score a soccer goal on the new turf field.

“The President’s Council has always wanted to get a good field,” Akana said. “Because of the departure of athletics, they wanted to put more focus on the students and the intramural program. …We were lacking a good field with good lighting. Something that, if it rains, we can use no matter what. After showing great numbers of students participating in events, they said, ‘Let’s do a field.’”

Magalei said he thinks the new field is something students didn’t know they need until they had it. “Kind of like when the pavilion opened by the Hales,” he said. “We didn’t realize we needed it until it was there. Now everyone uses those basketball courts all the time.

“Same with this. We didn’t really think we needed it, but now that it’s here, it’s going to be so nice for student life.”

Akana said Seasider Sport’s next big project is building two full basketball courts with lights near the turf field that will be finished this summer. He said they are planning to then build new pickleball courts by winter.