I am the… Assistant Athletic Field Manager
For the… University of South Alabama (Mobile, Alabama)
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? Our John Deere Aercore 1500. The majority of our fields are native clay soils, so aerification is a major part of our maintenance program.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be…” A game warden. I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors.
What path led you to a career in sports field management? Given my passion for the outdoors, I wanted to work outside and I didn’t want to work in a cubicle. When I enrolled in the turfgrass program at Ohio State University, I also took a job working with Brian Gimbel on the university’s athletic fields. After my first quarter of classes and work, I set my sights on becoming a sports field manager.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? We’re responsible for all the playing surfaces and neutral areas inside the athletic facilities. This includes six natural grass fields (baseball, softball, soccer, football, band and track) and one synthetic football field.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? Our biggest challenge is the weather in southern Alabama. We receive more annual rainfall than any other city in the country. Trying to maintain safe and playable field conditions on native clay soils is very challenging.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? It’s important to take time off and get away from the ballpark every now and then. It’s easy to get burned out during the season. Sometimes you just need to get away and not think about work for a day.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? Expectations and demands of the fields we care for will continue to increase, while budgets will stay the same. Also, sports field managers will continue to be asked to do more with less. I also expect the industry will continue to see growth in the use of technology.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? Being able to adapt to changing situations and plans. Being able to think quickly on your feet is also very important to having a successful operation.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Don’t be afraid to try new things or to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. The best way to learn is through experience.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? I’ve been fortunate to have several people help me get to where I am today. My biggest mentors have been Brent Packer and Ken Czerniak. While I was at Ohio State, Brent taught me all the basic skills I needed to pursue this career. When I worked at Florida Atlantic University, Ken taught me a lot about managing bermudagrass fields and how to manage a crew.