I am the Assistant Groundskeeper at Veterans Memorial Stadium
For the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels Ball Club, the Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? It’s tough to say one particular piece of equipment, but it would be difficult without our mowers. Having a consistent height of cut is very important to the players, and we don’t want them thinking if today the ball is going to roll slower or faster than it did yesterday.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be … ” Farming corn and beans with my dad in northwest Iowa.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? My favorite sports movie has always been “For Love of the Game.” Since I was a pitcher, the thought of throwing a perfect game is something I always dreamed about.
What path led you to a career in sports field management? I grew up playing baseball and was fortunate enough to play in college as a pitcher. I injured my elbow and needed Tommy John surgery to repair it. After the surgery I still wanted to be involved in baseball and found an internship with the Cedar Rapids Kernels on the grounds crew. After a couple weeks, while working there, I knew I found my profession.
What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? Our field is sand-based 100-percent bluegrass.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? I would say our biggest challenges are the same as just about every other facility — hosting the amount of events during a season year. Whether or not its full-size concerts in the outfield, multiple high school games in one day, or publicity events right before a game.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career? My most memorable moment was having Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins rehab with the Kernels last season for a week.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is being able to work quickly and do it right the first time.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? I’m rather new in this industry, but with all of the new development in grass blade wear and tear tolerance, I’m looking forward to how much playability a field will be able to take before any action is needed.
What do you wish spectators/players/coaches knew about your job? That what people see when they get to the ballpark takes more than a couple people and an hour to accomplish. With home stands going up to nine games in nine days, we put in many more than 40 hours a week.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? An important quality that I believe makes a successful field manager is the ability to see the fine details. Some may think that the small details will not stand out to the fans, which they may be correct. But if you want to be a successful manager and have your field play the very best it can play, you’re going to have to see the small details in everything.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Be prepared to work with multiple people besides your own turf crew — from entertainment coordinators, stage set-up crews or coaches of any level, just to name a few.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Jesse Roeder has been by far my biggest mentor in learning how to excel in this profession. Jesse took over as head groundskeeper in 2003 and has taught me everything from the dirt to grass transition, moisture management and also in dealing with entertainment and extra events on the field.