Todd Frie not only served as the head coach of the Bowman County Bulldogs football team for the last few years, but he also had several other duties that came with coaching ball.
Though he is no longer the head coach at Bowman County, Frie spent a lot of time preparing his players and getting everything ready for Friday nights.
He led the Bulldogs to the state quarterfinals last fall and the state semifinals the year before, but Frie and several others also spent hours each week putting in work to make sure that the field is lined and prepared for the Bulldogs to run out on.
“There were a lot of times when we were up at the field at 11 at night,” he said. “During the season, we’d get done with practice around 6 and we’d be out there till 11 or so. There’s been a few times I have been out there until the morning hours after midnight. That wasn’t very often though.”
The first time the field is cut and painted for a game each fall takes hours and hours of work, but in the end it is well worth it as midseason field preparations are a little shorter.
The original mow is always the hardest and takes the most time due to having to measure lines and make sure that everything is perfect.
“First we get our border measured so all 300 feet and then we have to think one step ahead. Where the painted line is going to be you had to have that in the center of your mowed line,’ Frie said. “We had to account for that when you start to cut from the border lines and you have to account for where the painted line will be. We coordinated with the person mowing the original field to make sure it is mowed so we can start striping the field. We measure the border out and center it in the center of the cut line.”
They then run string lines and pull them really tight to ensure that they make a straight line.
They start with cutting the perimeter of the field and mow goal line to goal line twice because later on the hashes must be painted and they can’t be on taller grass.
“We ended up doing two strips on the sidelines from goal line to goal line,” he said. “We didn’t cut into the endzone though because that would look funny.”
A couple guys will then help measure string lines every five yards and operate them while another is mowing.
For every ten yards though, they can’t just go ten yards, because they had to account for the width of the lawnmower.
Finally, the hashes come to life down the middle of the field, and they are based off of the sidelines.
Along with the hashes is the extra point line from only a few yards out of the end zone.
The mowing and painting of the lines is very precise and must be exactly right, and it takes a few hours to complete.
Frie and his team have a template that they pick up and carry around to make sure that it is correct.
At last, the most noticeable paint job which is the numbers of each sidelines signifying the yard lines is ready to be done.
“They are supposed to be 27 feet or 9 yards off the sideline,” Frie said. “We would run a string line to the top of the number. We did every ten yards for our numbers.”
Frie likes to have a couple of his players help out with this process if possible.
“It was nice to have a couple kids there. The zero you used a lot with every number,” he said. “It was being drug across the field every ten yards, but as soon as you used the one painted for the ten, then you could have someone bring it down to the opposite ten so it is ready to go.”
After last fall, Frie and individuals who helped get the field ready every week put down markers so that the first mow and lining of the field for this season will not be as time consuming, because they will already have an idea of the measurements and lines based on those markers.
Midseason games are easier because nothing has to be measured. The field has to be mowed and then paint is applied over where the numbers and hashes already lay.
While it may seem like a much easier task to accomplish, it still takes several hours to perfect.
The only stipulation is that the grass can’t get too high though so it must be mowed consistently.
The Bulldogs players and coaches try to stay off the game field during the season to make sure that the paint and grass is ready to go for game days, but last fall that was more of a challenge.
The rain and moisture meant that their practice field was underwater and they were unable to use it for portions of the fall.
They had to use the baseball fields nearby and would occasionally find their way onto the game field.
At the end of a long week of work on the field, even it is near midnight, Frie and others who helped out had a longstanding tradition of going up on top of the bleachers to stare down and admire the work they have done.
The hope for them was that the Bulldogs put in just as much work on Friday night’s and walked off the shining field with a convincing victory.