I am … Amy J. Fouty, Athletic Turf Manager
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? Our TDR soil moisture monitoring equipment and my Microsoft Surface Pro 3.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …” A child psychologist helping kids deal with traumatic life experiences in a positive way.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? A tie between “Remember The Titans” and “Caddyshack.”
What path led you to a career in sports field management? When I realized I wasn’t going to play college sports, I started coaching middle school sports and then high school softball before I began working at a local golf course. It was just a natural progression careerwise for me into athletic field management from golf course management.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? We’re responsible for maintaining all the outdoor athletic fields for the MSU athletic department. This includes a grass practice football field, an artificial practice football field, natural grass stadium football field, a practice soccer field, a soccer game field, a softball field and a baseball stadium. We also maintain the hitting and pitching building, indoor practice football facility and various general grounds and landscaping areas. I’m also involved in projects like field renovations, facility renovations, concert preparation and stadium maintenance projects.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facilities? Dealing with weatherrelated issues is typically the biggest challenge we face in Michigan. All the fields reacts differently based on microclimate and soil types, so maintaining consistent, safe playing conditions can be very challenging at times. We embrace the adversity we experience and like the challenge in the preparation for each game.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? That you (me) are responsible for the way people perceive and treat you. Be a professional and people will treat you that way.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? I see more technology being embraced in everyday field operations, and as staff size decreases we have to be more productive and efficient.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? I think there are two — being able to communicate effectively and being able to change and adapt quickly. Our team is presented with a wide array of field-related requests for the seven teams we directly support. When you have a small staff, as we do, being able to organize priorities and communicate is important to maintain solid relationships with each of the teams and accomplishing everything that needs to be done.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? First, be patient — field management is a lot more than the lessons you learned in school. Second, the field management profession is a lifestyle — it’s a part of every day, 12 months a year, and requires personal sacrifices. Third, we do this work because we have a passion for it, not because we think we’ll make a lot of money doing it.
Who have been your biggest influences/ mentors? My grandparents were a huge influence in my life — they were hardworking, honest and loving people who taught me to treat others as I want to be treated. My husband, Mike, a golf course superintendent, and I have been married for 16 years. The influence and support we have for each other has always been positive, because it’s a challenge to be married to someone who is also married to their job. As far a mentor, it would be Gregory Ianni, the deputy athletic director (and my current boss) here at Michigan State.