Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …” A veterinarian.
What path led you to a career in sports turf? In high school, I helped maintain all of the athletic fields that I played on, as well as owned my own landscape company. Once I came to Mississippi State University and discovered its Golf and Sports Turf Management curriculum, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field ( football); MSU Soccer Field; Dudy Noble Field at Polk-Dement Stadium(baseball); Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex (1 synthetic, 3 natural); Nusz Park (softball); Carl Maddox Track & Field Complex; and 8 acres of intramural multipurpose fields. We also maintain a vast majority of common ground around each of these facilities as well.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining your facility? Timing and scheduling. With every sport being yearround, scheduling is the biggest factor in day-to-day maintenance. Working with each team on when they’ll be using each facility is a vital piece to the puzzle. This way, we can plan accordingly and get our jobs done without interrupting or inconveniencing any of our teams.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? Expect the unexpected.
How do you predict the sports turf industry will evolve in the future? I believe the industry will continue to grow. Social media has allowed us to show what we do on a day-to-day basis to more of the general public than ever before. I’ve personally seen an influx of kids wanting to join, or wanting to know how to get involved in the industry.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Be patient — don’t expect to grab a top-tier head sports turf job right out of college. The more you can learn and the more people you can learn from, the better. Make yourself as wellrounded as you can.
Describe the sports turf industry in one word. Busy.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Bart Prather, former MSU sports turf superintendent. I served as Bart’s assistant for six years. He took me under his wing and not only showed me the turf side of the industry, but the business side as well. Bart is now the associate director for campus landscape, covering all of the campus grounds. I still pick his brain daily; he’s my direct boss.