Sergio Pedroza, Fields and Grounds Manager, Seattle Seahawks
What path led you to a career in sports field management? Growing up in eastern Washington, I worked on a cattle ranch and always enjoyed working outside. I always enjoyed playing sports and at a young age said, “If I can’t play for the Mariners, I can at least cut their grass.” While in high school I learned about a local college’s turf management program and after graduation decided to pursue this career.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? I’m responsible for three natural grass football fields (250,000 square feet) one indoor synthetic football field, all lawns and landscaping surrounding the facility (80,000 square feet), as well as a shoreline and wetland.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? Anticipating Seattle area weather and scheduling everyday tasks around open weather windows, while also being flexible and balancing the football and team schedule.
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? Our sprayer is the key component to our fertilizer program and improves our overall effectiveness and efficiency.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career? The entire 2013 championship football season. Not only for the fact of the Super Bowl, but also for being able to provide safe, playable fields throughout the season, playoffs and leading up to the Super Bowl. The organization was made up of a great team of staff members, and it was exciting to know we were able to contribute to such a successful year.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? I’ve learned to be more observant and open-minded to other strategies and knowledge. Being willing to learn, and never being satisfied, has helped me grow as a professional.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SEATTLE SEAHAWKS.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? I could see this industry growing and advancing with technology. Also growth in the amount of informed and educated turf managers, showing that this is a great profession that you can make a career out of.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job? To stay off the grass! But also, that this is a year-round job, and that the work doesn’t stop as soon as the season is over. A well-maintained natural grass field takes a lot of work and time, it’s more than a fulltime job. It can overtake holidays, vacations and other obligations. There’s more to it than just putting a fancy mow pattern on the field.
What are the most important qualities required to be a successful field manager? Being flexible, having a strong work ethic, and making yourself available but balancing your life with work obligations. Communicating with team members is key, and always being willing to learn every day from experience, educational opportunities and industry trends.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Hit the books hard and take your education seriously, but also be observant of what others are doing. Try and make the most of every opportunity to learn. Continue to grow and better your skills each and every day.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Sean, my supervisor, for allowing me to grow as a young groundskeeper and pushing me to take on more responsibility and full ownership of the work that I do. My college program advisor, for continuing to stay in contact and helping me find and understand this profession. Finally, my parents, for instilling me with a strong work ethic.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be .” I would probably be farming back home.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? “Remember the Titans.” It’s a classic movie about teamwork, camaraderie and resilience.