October 2014

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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42 SportsTurf | October 2014 Field oF the Year The STeward School BaSeBall Field Richmond, VA Category of Submission: Schools/Parks Baseball Sports Turf Manager: Mark Roberts Title: Athletic Turf and Field Manager Education: Bachelors Degree in Agriculture from Ferrum College Experience: 1998-01: Luck Stone Fielder's Choice Infield Mix; 2002-06: Turf Products (Sports Turf only) Herod Seeds; 2006-09: Innovative Turf Applications and Consulting (ITAC) – athletic fields maintenance and building; 2010-Present: Turf Manager of 11 acres of athletic fields at The Steward School. Full-time staff: Roberts is only full-timer Part-time staff: The varsity baseball team, head baseball coach Bruce Secrest, and assistant to the athletic director Garrett Compton. Original construction: 2010 Rootzone: Native soil Turfgrass variety: Patriot Bermudagrass Overseed: I overseed with a three-way blend of perennial ryegrass called Field General Maxx from Landscape Supply Inc., and it is applied twice dur- ing the fall. The first application in mid-September at a rate of 250 lbs/acre; the second application is in late October at a rate of 200lbs/acre. Drainage: No drainage system Why STMA Should conSider your field A Winner? From 2000 until 2010, I worked in sports turf sales and then as a sports turf contractor, covering the majority of the state of Virginia, viewing baseball fields from the Division I college level to parks & recre- ation fields. With the exception of Division I fields, most fields had a recurring theme. e small details, such as lips building in the grass, edging, and holes in the batters boxes and catching area were being missed; even in fields that were at the higher high school di- vision levels, I found that the small every day details were being neglected. When I joined e Steward School in 2010 as the athletic turf and field manager and we built the new baseball field, I focused on teaching and instilling the "art" of turf management to the varsity baseball team. I have focused on helping them become aware of the "little details" that make such a huge impact on the outcome of success- ful turf management. us, emphasizing the pride in dedication and "ownership" of their field and why we do what we do. I am al- ways humbled by and have such a feeling of pride in not only myself, but those players who truly have come to understand the con- cept of what we do, in their comments on the consistency and play-ability of our field compared to others that they have played on. With our team playing high level travel ball, they are on a lot of fields across many differ- ent states. Players compare our fields to Divi- sion I schools, like the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina. Not to mention, the alumni who are now collegiate players return from college and comment that our field is nicer than most fields at their level of play. In conversation with Billy Wagner, head coach of the Miller School and former MLB player), he commented, "If you want a true playing surface, nicely groomed, major league-style park, Steward is the place." In addition to working with players at practice, we have a program in which sopho- mores and juniors participate in a 1-week internship. For the past 2 years, I have had the opportunity to have one of the baseball players intern with me. is allows me to teach, discuss, and enlighten them to all of the aspects involved in the field of sports turf management and hopefully instill that desire in them. At the end of the week, I receive the same response: "ere's a lot more to this than just mowing the grass." Yes, there most definitely is.

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