Brian Cool, Groundskeeper, Everett Memorial Stadium, home of the Everett AquaSox, Everett, Washington
What path led you to a career in sports field management?
I was a secondary school teacher, coach and athletic director. I ran a summer recreation program in my hometown of Drain, Oregon. I had a bug for minor league baseball and applied for a position with a local Class A team in Eugene, Oregon. General Manager Bob Beban had his staff entirely hired except for a head groundskeeper. I was fortunate to be hired, and I shadowed with the Giants at Candlestick Park in April 1989, and my career in sports turf took off from there.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for?
I am responsible for the playing surface at Everett Memorial Stadium, Everett Washington, which is a natural grass playing surface and home of the Everett AquaSox, a Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility?
The reconstruction of the field in a short time span was a challenge, although very enjoyable. The infield was very uneven and not up to minor league standards, thus it had to be overhauled. Also, the natural grass playing surface is 80 to 90 percent annual bluegrass, which is difficult to maintain, especially in midsummer.
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without?
My walk-behind aerator, nail board, AccuPro 2000 broadcast spreader and rigid mat drags are all indispensable.
Photo courtesy of Brian Cool.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
Performing the duties of head groundskeeper at the Florida Marlins’ spring training complex, and the excitement of winning the 1997 World Series. I also rate highly the reconstruction of minor league infields for the Helena Brewers and the Bakersfield Blaze.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job?
Being able to use the resources available, which are sometimes limited, to the greatest extent possible. Trial and error is a good method for me to know what is successful and what fails, and I take it from there.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future?
I hope there will be a period of turning back the clock to natural grass surfaces and away from synthetic surfaces. Also, I believe adaptable bermudagrass surfaces will stretch northward due to limited water availability and outstanding wear tolerance during the growing season.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job?
I believe players and coaches sincerely appreciate all of the meticulous work that goes into the playing surface. The spectators enjoy a truly aesthetically pleasing surface. Playability and safety always come first.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager?
Work ethic is most important due to long days, tight timetables, and the challenges of tearing down and reconstructing playing surfaces. In addition, creativity and innovation are a must.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers?
Don’t be afraid to tear down in order to rebuild and improve existing surfaces.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors?
The 1993 Kansas City Royals’ spring training grounds staff at Baseball City Stadium in Florida, and my former boss, Barney Lopas, gave me a great package of knowledge and experience. I learned so much about mounds, plates and infield dirt from both sources.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …”
… growing and marketing bermuda surfaces in Southern Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest that could be used for premium baseball, football, soccer and lacrosse surfaces. I feel there’s nothing better than an overseeded bermuda playing surface.