I am the … Maintenance Coordinator
For the … Peoria (Arizona) Sports Complex
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? My tractor — even if all the mowers break, we can hook up a gang unit to get it done.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …” Ski patrol or a forest ranger.
What path led you to a career in sports field management? I started working for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (currently the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers) in high school. I fell in love with creating mowing patterns, grooming the infield and meticulously ensuring the aesthetics of the field as a form of art. After a discussion with my supervisors, I switched my major at Colorado State from natural resources to turfgrass management.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? We oversee the playing fields, practice fields, common areas and landscaping of the spring training complex for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Our facility is used year-round for player development by the two organizations, as well as for regional high school and junior college scouting tournaments.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? The numerous user groups that we host who have a variety of expectations when utilizing the complex.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career? It’s not so much the moments, but the people that are the most memorable. People like Mike Urich, who was my intern and is now the head groundskeeper for the York Revolution (my old job). Or Matt Dierdorff, an old assistant of mine, has won a Sports Turf Managers Association Field of the Year award. And all the other groundskeepers I’ve had the pleasure to work with … people like Anthony DeFeo, Kevin Moses, Josh Marden and Steve DeLeon, just to name a few.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? Working for the Sky Sox, I learned the value of teaching and sharing of knowledge. When I interned for the Boston Red Sox, I learned how not to treat the people that work for you. And now with the city of Peoria, I’m learning the importance of trust and how to build and maintain it with everyone I work with.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? We’re close to understanding how an athlete’s body responds to and is influenced by the playing surface. Our industry has always touted safety and playability without understanding the full concept beyond twisting an ankle or taking a ball to the teeth. Sports turf managers are already part chemist, biologist and meteorologist (just to name a few) and the role of kinesiologist will soon be added.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job? I wish the intrinsic and intangible value of a quality playing field was better understood. Also, the conversation about “burnout” within our industry is very real. The work/personal life ratio is out of balance and pay scales don’t match the efforts many of our peers provide.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? Patience.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? You don’t have to work at a massive stadium to have a successful career.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? All of the supervisors that I’ve learned so much from — for example, Mark Leasure, Chad Olsen, Al Siebert and Chris Calcaterra. Also my wife, Rachel, who keeps me balanced.