the Director of Sports Turf Management
Gwinnett Braves, the Class AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without?
There are several, but I believe the most important piece is our walk-behind aerifier. With the ability to change tines and multiple ways to keep the turf open, this tool is invaluable. Also, I have an incredible set of vendors that I rely on heavily to be an extra set of eyes and ears and information who are available at a moment’s notice all times of the day.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …”
A chef or restaurant owner. I love good food and sundries.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why?
Growing up in a family of avid golfers, I would have to say “Tin Cup.” I’ve had a case of the laterals before, and they’re tough to get rid of.
What path led you to a career in sports field management?
I don’t have a degree in turfgrass science; my degree is in public administration. I was a student assistant at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro and part of my responsibilities was to assist and prepare our practice facility, a local high school field. We played our games at War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina. Part of my responsibilities was to assist the Mel Landford, the field manager, on a weekly basis during our season. Mel took me under his wing and taught me his craft. I fell in love with the profession. After I graduated, I enrolled in grad school, and we were in the process of building a stadium on campus. I was hired by the athletic department to help maintain that new facility, and the rest is history.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for?
I maintain Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility?
It’s always the ever-changing weather and the climatic conditions. I worked in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for 10 years, where we were about 20 feet above sea level and the weather patterns were very easy to read. Here, being in the hills of northeast Georgia, it’s a totally different scenario.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
There have been many. I would say the most memorable moment was hosting a NCAA Regional and Super Regional in the NCAA Baseball Tournament on back-to-back weekends and the Carolina League/California League All-Star Game all within a three-week period.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job?
To be patient. Turf takes time to heal and time to grow. Results can’t be attained overnight. Be a good communicator and a good listener. Work with your front office and be very flexible. They are the ones who pay your bills.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future?
Each season there are new fertilizer and control product technologies, which are very exciting and will continue to evolve to make our lives as field managers easier year in and year out.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job?
Just really how much time and passion we all put into our facilities. And the number one question we always get is, “How do you get those stripes on the field?”
What’s the most important quality required to be a successful field manager?
Be flexible. Each day is a totally different and new day. Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things. Network with industry partners; they are an incredible value to you and your job.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers?
Be patient. Learn as much as you can during your internships and assistantships. Stay late, even if it’s off the clock. Learn how to set the height of cut on every mower you have. Grease reels.