Director of Stadium Grounds, Columbus Crew
What path led you to a career in sports field management? I loved playing sports, but knew that I wasn’t good enough to play professionally. I also enjoyed being outside and mowing lawns. I put the two together and here I am.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? I’m responsible for the stadium pitch, two training fields, and the 12 acres of landscaping that surround Crew Stadium.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? The biggest challenges we face are much like every other groundskeeper. Weather is a big challenge, as our season starts in early March and runs through the end of November. Couple that with the number of extra events we have (concerts, high school games, etc.), and we have our hands full.
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? My sprayer. We monitor our field closely, and having the ability to spray nutrients and pesticides as needed and see a quick response is very valuable to us.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career? The USA-Mexico FIFA World Cup Qualifier we hosted in 2013. The crowd was electric, and the field looked and held up great. By far my most memorable event.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? You are nothing without your crew. The staff I have here in Columbus is top notch. They make coming to work every day a joy!
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE COLUMBUS CREW.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? That’s a tough question. It’s hard to say. I feel like the evolution of sports turf over the past three years has been extreme. The new cultivation practices and pesticides available to us are impressive. I think we are becoming smarter as turf managers. I believe we will continue to be progressive and try new things. I think we realize that grass can take more, and we need to be aggressive with our practices in order [for the grass] to withstand more wear.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job? We are constantly working to keep the fields in the best possible shape. We work weekends, holidays and nights. The question I get the most from people when I tell them what I do is, “Do you get to go to the games?” The answer is always, “No, I have to work them.”
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? Dedication. During the season you spend countless hours maintaining your fields. You have to have the dedication to your career to be successful. Home life is very important as well. You need to be dedicated to your family. When you are at home your focus needs to be away from work. Being able to turn the switch off of work when you leave the office is a must.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Always be looking to improve. Educate yourself and don’t be afraid to try knew things.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Two people. Matt Williams who runs the Ohio State University Turfgrass Research and Education Facility gave me my first job out of college. I will forever be in debt to him. Also, Eugene Mayer from the Scotts Company has been a great friend and mentor throughout my career. The man is a legend in the industry and has always been helpful professionally.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be .” A farmer. I love being outside and watching plants grow.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? “Major League.” Being from Ohio and being an Indians fan made me love this movie. Also, Bob Uecker was classic in this movie.