A Shrinking Team, but a Home Field Advantage
Posted by trans on November 18, 2002 at 12:47:40:
TRONA, Calif., Nov. 15 — In the Mojave Desert's 25,000 square miles of sun-blasted earth there is a patch of sand 100
Residents of this mining town proudly call it the Pit, and for 60 years it has subjected the football teams that come to play Trona
Tonight the Trona Tornadoes played a game in the Pit that made sad history. As Trona's fortunes have fallen, the school's
Called the Borax Bowl, the game is a matchup of two mining towns that are world leaders in producing borax, a mineral used in
Trona versus Boron. Towns that sound like planets in a place that seems fittingly unearthly. Apart from the football field at
Other teams do not like to play on it. Its hard-packed sand has less give than grass, and the players' skin can be scraped raw.
"No athlete should be subjected to conditions found nowhere else in the country but Trona," Stu Downes, a sportswriter for
Trona's coaches have heard complaints about home-field advantage from all quarters. The fact that Mammoth High is among
"We knocked Mammoth High out of the championship last year, and they were very upset," said John Davis, superintendent of
Grass will not grow on the field because it is wet down daily with brackish water, trucked in because of a water shortage. It is
"We don't want it; we like the sand," said John Parks, the team's coach. "There's something about the mystique of the Pit."
Even the principal at Boron High, Paul Kostopoulos, finds something inexplicable about the Pit. When he was the team's
"When we won, I scooped up some of the sand and put it in a Coke bottle," Mr. Kostopoulos said. "I still have it on my desk."
If mining is the nervous system of Trona, population 2,000, football is its heart. There is no youth basketball, baseball or soccer
"We've lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Bakersfield, towns large and small," said Patty Jeffers, whose two sons played for Trona in
In a blow to its ego, Trona had to forfeit four games this year because it could not field enough players. The school's declining
The Boron team has also forfeited some games this year for the same reason as Trona, but it has more underclassman and so
"This town stinks," Kalen Hanson, 17, of Boron, said before the game, referring to the sulfureous odor created by Trona's
Trona players had their own point to prove.
"Trona has a different breed of kids," said Cody Corrion, 17. "We're tougher. This field makes us tougher."
Who knows if it was the Pit advantage yet again, but in the last four minutes of a bruising battle, Trona scored a touchdown and
"There's nothing that feels better," Mr. Davis said, "than beating Boron."