SportsField Management magazine is proud to announce the formation of a new Editorial Advisory Board.
This esteemed, eight-person board will serve SportsField Management in a variety of capacities, including brainstorming new topics for the magazine to cover, content review, the participation of quarterly roundtable discussions and more.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the formation of this excellent and prestigious group of athletic field managers for SportsField Management’s new Editorial Advisory Board,” SFM Editor in Chief Robert Meyer said. “The eight members of this board are all very passionate about what they do for a living — they’re all committed to providing the safest, most playable and aesthetically pleasing fields as humanly possible. These values match up perfectly with SFM’s mission statement. Also, these field managers represent several different levels in the profession and come from all across the United States. SportsField Management is very humbled and fortunate to have this association with them.”
Here are the eight members:
Ryan Bjorn is the director of grounds and environmental management for the Maryland Soccer Plex in Germantown, Maryland. The facility — the 2014 Sports Turf Managers Association Professional Soccer Field of the Year — features 17 natural grass fields, nine native soil bluegrass/ryegrass mix fields, one sand-based bluegrass stadium field, five native soil Patriot bermudagrass fields and two sand-capped bermudagrass fields. He’s been at the Maryland Soccer Plex since March 2011. He’s also served on the grounds crews of the NFL’s New England Patriots and Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. Bjorn holds degrees is turf/turfgrass management and plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Heather Nabozny is the head groundskeeper at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. Nabozny took the position in 1999, at which time she became the first female head groundskeeper in the history of Major League Baseball. Her first season in Detroit was the last season for Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park’s predecessor. Prior to working at the Major League level — where she’s experienced two World Series — she spent five and a half years as the groundskeeper at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan, for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps. She began her career in 1993 as a groundskeeper for the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida. Nabozny attended Northern Michigan University, Lansing Community College and graduated from Michigan State University’s sports turf management program.
Chris Ball is the director of sports turf management at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia, home of the Gwinnett Braves, the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. In 2013, Ball was named both the International League Sports Turf Manager of the Year and the STMA’s Triple-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year. Prior to joining the Gwinnett Braves in 2011, Ball spent nine seasons with the Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, where he won five consecutive Carolina League Field of the Year awards from 2006-2010. He has also served as the head groundskeeper for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, as well as the supervisor of athletic facilities for the parks and recreation department for the city of Greensboro, North Carolina. Ball has a degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Patrick Coakley, CSFM, is the sports turf superintendent for Ripken Baseball in Aberdeen, Maryland. This includes Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, home of the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) and the Ripken Experience-Aberdeen, a nine field youth complex and home of the Cal Ripken World Series. Prior to Ripken, Coakley won the Minor League Baseball Field of the Year award five times in two different leagues. In 2006 he was named the Double-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year and his field (Blair County Ballpark) in Altoona, Pennsylvania, was named Professional Baseball Field of the Year. He became certified by the STMA in 2005. Coakley — who has also worked in sports construction — has a degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Brett Tanner, CSFM, is the athletic grounds superintendent for the University of Akron (Ohio). Tanner manages eight acres of athletic fields and four acres of synthetic surfaces. Tanner has also worked for DePauw University and the University of Virginia. Previously, he spent six years working for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew; the last four years of which (2008-2011 seasons) he was the director of stadium grounds. In 2010, Columbus’ Mapfre Stadium was named Professional Soccer Field of the Year. Tanner’s turf experience isn’t limited to the U.S. — in 2006 he interned with European soccer club Arsenal FC. By doing so, he became the first U.S. college student to secure an internship with the grounds staff of an English Premier League club. Tanner has a degree in turfgrass science from Ohio State University.
Matt Hollan is the sports turf and grounds manager for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The historic, iconic stadium is home to the University of Southern California Trojans football team and is the temporary home of the newly-relocated Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. Prior to taking the position at the Coliseum, Hollan was the athletic fields groundskeeper at the University of Minnesota and has worked on the grounds crews of the Minnesota Twins, the University of Tennessee, the Double-A Tennessee Smokies and Iowa State University. He also served as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee, conducting various turfgrass physiology and athletic field playing quality research projects. Hollan has a degree in horticulture/turfgrass management from Iowa State University.
Brian Winka, CSFM, is the parks maintenance supervisor for the city of Chesterfield, Missouri and is the president of the Gateway chapter of the STMA. Winka has a job scope with the city of Chesterfield that includes a 200-acre complex featuring 18 baseball and softball fields, 10 soccer fields, two football fields and a 3.5-acre multipurpose field. Winka manages both warm- and cool-season turfgrasses at the facility. He’s an eight-time winner of Pioneer Athletics’ Field of Excellence Award (2007, 2009-2015). He also has golf course maintenance background, serving as an assistant superintendent at some of the top public and private golf courses in the St. Louis area, including WingHaven Country Club and Missouri Bluffs Golf Club. Winka has a degree in agronomy from Missouri State University.
Joey Fitzgerald is the superintendent for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Camelback Ranch facility in Phoenix, Arizona, which is the spring training home of both the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. The 141-acre complex includes 13 full baseball fields and three half-fields. The site also boasts a 1,300-foot, 5-acre lake system (with a river) that serves the dual purpose of irrigation for fields and site landscaping. Fitzgerald — the 2012 Southern League Sports Turf Manager of the Year — was previously the head groundskeeper for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and has also worked for the Kansas City T-Bones, the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals. Fitzgerald has a degree in golf facilities and turf systems from the the University of Minnesota-Crookston.