Wayland Union High School is a public high school in Allegan County, Michigan with a student population of more than 800. In 2020, the school was due for a refresh of its athletic field and facilities, including a brand-new synthetic turf surface for the field, a new track, and other upgrades. As part of the improvement, the school decided to replace its aging athletic lighting system, which had outlived its lifespan after illuminating countless nighttime football games over a more than 30-year period. Windemuller was tasked with installing a new four-pole LED light system, as well as new play clocks for the field and new halftime countdown clocks for the team locker rooms.
Starting in the early spring of 2020, our crew worked with other trades to bring Wayland Union High School a stunning new athletic field setup. For us, that process involved taking down the old wood poles that made up the previous lighting system, installing the new hardware, and implementing all the conduit, wiring, circuits, and junction boxes necessary to get everything working together. But just as a football defensive line can make matters challenging for a quarterback searching for his open man out on the field, we faced challenges of our own on this project, primarily related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus put Michigan on lockdown for more than two months, halting this project and many other jobs that Windemuller and all trades had in the pipeline at the time. When work was allowed to resume, we not only had to strategize new safety protocols to keep our crews protected on the jobsite, but we were also racing against a deadline left unchanged by the pandemic. Wayland Union High School needed this project done in time for the fall 2020 season, and Windemuller needed to oblige. Making matters more challenging was the work going on all around us, from the field to the track. These other work areas gave us limited space to do our job and made it more challenging to remove the old lighting poles and install the new ones.
Outfitted in PPE and working carefully to avoid causing problems for the trades busy installing the new track and field, our crews doubled down on their work ethic and threw a Hail Mary pass. It took a big commitment and plenty of extra overtime work, but we held to the original project deadline and handed off a fully finished, fully functional sports field in plenty of time for Wayland Union High School’s fall sports seasons to proceed. There was a happy ending on that front, too: while Michigan had initially planned to postpone the high school football season to spring 2021, that decision ultimately got reversed—giving Wayland players the chance to use their new field the way it was intended: under the bright lights during a night game, on a crisp autumn Friday night.