Photos courtesy of George C. Trivett unless otherwise noted.

Ron Driver, left, and George C. Trivett pose with the new Toro mower.

1. What does your job entail?

I’m the sports turf manager for the parks and recreation department of Lenoir, N.C. I manage approximately 30 acres of playing surfaces with the assistance of Ron Driver, who previously worked on the recreation side and has quickly learned turf maintenance. We maintain a total of 22 fields.

2. What attracted you most to your current career?

I first became interested in field care when I helped maintain the softball field as a seventh-grade player.

3. What was your first job in the turf industry?

I earned my bachelor’s degree at Appalachian State University. In 1977, I started teaching health and PE at Granite Falls Middle School, where I was also the head football coach and the athletic director. That gave me the opportunity to work on the fields. I was hooked my first day on the tractor. I became a certified grounds manager with the PGMS and a certified sports field manager with the STMA.

4. What are the soil profiles of your fields?

One of our soccer fields has very sandy soil. We’re not sure if that was achieved in the initial construction or through post-construction renovation. The remaining fields have a native clay soil profile.

None of the fields have subsurface drainage systems. The soccer complex fields are graded for surface drainage. Only those fields and the fields at Wilson Park have irrigation systems.

5. What types of turf do you have on your fields?

Common bermudagrass is our primary turf, though we have done some resodding using 419 bermuda. We usually either seed or sprig worn areas. We converted pastureland to a new soccer field last year, tilling and leveling the native soil and seeding with common bermuda.

6. How do you lay out the typical annual field maintenance program?

We follow standard IPM procedures. We’ve used Barricade for preemergent weed control and have spot-treated broadleaf weeds with SpeedZone. We apply Roundup on the non-overseeded dormant bermudagrass fields in early spring to eliminate existing weeds. We core aerate, drag in the cores and apply a 25-2-5 or 32-3-6 slow-release fertilizer monthly from May through August. We soil test annually to determine the fertilization requirements. We’ll topdress the new field with sand in the spring and plan to work that into the program, at least for the other soccer fields.

We’ve switched from the old reel mowers to a Toro 3505D rotary with striping rollers. We’re budgeting for a second, but are borrowing an out-front rotary from the grounds department until then. We mow the fields three times a week to a height of 1.5 inches.

Our base path material is 80 percent sand and 20 percent clay, screened for us by a local supplier and amended with calcined clay. We groom the skinned areas with a John Deere 1200A field rake.

7. What’s the most important piece of equipment or product in your program?

The new mower is most important; it does a better job, faster. The aerator is second.

8. What are the biggest challenges on your fields?

Overuse is our biggest challenge, especially with all the play on the dormant bermudagrass in the spring. The drought situation here has added another set of challenges. We’re fortunate to have the window of downtime in the summer to renovate the fields and allow them to rest.

Ron Driver, assistant sports turf manager, marks the center circle on the soccer field using one of Trivett’s tricks of the trade. One end of a rope, the length of the radius of the circle to be painted, is attached to a nail inserted at the center with the other end attached to the paint machine. The circle is painted quickly and accurately by keeping the string stretched tightly while walking in a circle around the nail. A view of one of the city of Lenoir soccer fields when George C. Trivett started implementing the sports field management program.

9. How do you communicate with people?

Most of our interaction is in face-to-face meetings, supplemented by phone and e-mail messaging. I work directly under the recreation director, Rob Winkler, who coordinates the sports programs. Lane Bailey, city manager, the city council members, and our field user groups have been very supportive and appreciate the results we’ve produced within such a short time.

This is the same field, from the same angle, after one year under Trivett’s sports field management program. Trivett tackles a problem on one of the inground irrigation systems.

10. How do you see the sports field management profession changing in the future?

We’ll need to focus more on showing the public and the media that we’re qualified professionals, with the knowledge and desire to produce and maintain safe, playable and aesthetically pleasing fields. To accomplish that, we’ll need greater participation within the industry and in industry associations. It’s very important that more sports field managers become CSFM qualified to establish a standard that publicly confirms professional competency. I think we’ll see even more networking to keep up with advancing technology and raise the level of field conditions overall.