I am the… Director of Grounds
For the… Maryland SoccerPlex
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? To narrow it down to one piece would be extremely difficult. Multiple different types of equipment working together to promote the healthiest plant possible is what we’re working towards here.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …” Building custom wood furniture out of my woodshop, built from reclaimed barn lumber … with a killer mustache!
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? “The Sandlot” — the great Hambino was a childhood idol. Wendy Peffercorn: If you’re reading this, call me!
What path led you to a career in sports field management? I started working on a golf course in high school, and was introduced to the sports turf side of the industry when I started at the University of Massachusetts.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? At the Maryland SoccerPlex we have 17 natural grass fields, nine native soil bluegrass/ ryegrass mix fields, one sandbased bluegrass stadium field, five native soil Patriot bermudagrass fields and two sand-capped bermudagrass fields, which are spilt into two varieties — one is Lattitude 36 next to Riviera and the other is Patriot next to Northbridge.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? In the transition zone, the lack of predictability of weather is by far the biggest challenge at this facility. Having both warm- and cool-season grasses, there are rarely any times where the weather is conducive for both types, so we’re always trying new techniques to get the most out of all of our natural grass fields.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career? Winning the Sports Turf Managers Association Professional Soccer Field of the Year award last year. It was an extremely busy season for us, and it was great to have all the hard work done by our crew be recognized in the same category of some of the best sports fields in the country.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? Patience and attention to detail.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? Mistakes and failures happen, the important thing is to learn from them, improve and not make that same mistake twice.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? I hope we can finally start fighting some of the incorrect stereotypes about synthetic fields. We really need to focus more on pushing the limits of natural grass and stop focusing so much time and effort on artificial turf — the misconception that they are “cheaper than natural grass” and “zero maintenance” needs to be addressed.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job? How passionate we are as turf managers about the quality of our playing surfaces. uality of our playing surfaces. Creating safe and aesthetically pleasing fields for people and their families to play on is our number one priority.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. If there’s a job that interests you, go for it. If there’s a new technique, try it. And don’t be afraid to try new things!
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Weston Appelfeller and Jerad Minnick have each taught me so much, both about managing turfgrasses and about being an effective and respectful manager of employees. Also Jon Bengtson, head groundskeeper at Gillette Stadium, was a huge influence on me, even in the short time I spent with that crew. He’s the epitome of ‘lead by example’.