March 2015

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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24 SportsTurf | March 2015 SporTSTurf: No member has more passion for the STMA than you; why are you such a believer in the association? Schiller: How could I not be so passionate and such a believer in the association? As a young man just out of the mili- tary, I was a "newbie" sports turf manager in search of answers. At just the right time, I had the opportunity to attend some ses- sions at which I got to meet Doc Daniel and Harry Gill, which led to my meeting Dick Ericson and George Toma. I was lucky because these four men took me in, answered questions, and surrounded me with their energy and passion for field mainte- nance. I was blessed to call them friends as well as mentors. So I did whatever I could to repay their kindness and help them spread the word and be active in the movement. I also will be eternally grateful to Roger Bossard; whenever I called him, he would gladly answer questions and always had great suggestions. He quietly has been another leader in our industry that never sought recognition, but he and his family were really involved with the sports field management industry in the early days. ST: You were President of STMA nearly 20 years ago. What are the biggest changes you have seen in the association over that time? Schiller: The last 30+ years since I met Harry have flown by much too quickly. I have watched my family grow and I have worked with so many wonderful people in my career. In the early days our board met only once a year at conference, with an occasional phone poll to vote on an issue or program idea. Everyone was a volunteer; a lot of work took place over a bar- beque at our home in Chicago. We put many mailings together in our basement with the help of my kids and later with Dr. Kent Kurtz and his daughter. The fact we now have a full time Chief Executive Officer and full-time staff is testament to how far we have come. Along the way many of the pioneers gave their own money and time to help keep the dream alive. There were times that we hardly had two nickels in the bank, but hard work on the part of many kept things alive and growing. And just like a family, we argued and disagreed, but after attending this past conference in Denver, it is really a dream come true. The idea has grown to such an alive and vibrant organization, and I am honored to have been a small part of it. ST: Do you think the founders envisioned what STMA has become today? Schiller: Yes I do, I think they all had a feeling; they under- stood the need for safe fields and playing surfaces. And I think as good as things are now; I do believe the best is yet to come! ST: What are the most important changes you have seen in sports turf management over those 20 years? Schiller: The largest change I have seen is that we no lon- ger have to cull all our turf information from the research done for golf course management. We now have sports field-specific research at major universities. Drs. Daniel and Kurtz saw this future and were way ahead of the curve, and thanks to them and their fellow educators we now have numerous educational opportunities. Equipment-wise, the first AERA-vator with seed box was a big help to me. It could loosen and prepare and seed all at once. It drastically improved seed germination for those of us who couldn't use sod to repair surfaces. Speaking of aerification, the improvement and variety of equipment has been great, for The SportSturf InTervIew: MIke SchIller, cSFM THE INTERVIEW Editor's note: This month marks the debut of a new monthly feature, called "The SportsTurf Interview." Leading us off is now-re- tired Mike Schiller, CSFM, a long-time STMA member and former protégé of association founder Harry C. Gill. Mike was president of STMA in 1996-97 and was named the Harry C. Gill Memorial Founders Award by the association in 1993. The Schiller family: front left, youngest son, Johnathan; behind him younger daughter, Jennifer; at top is oldest son, Matthew. Mike stands behind his bride of 43 years, Char, with older daughter Elizabeth at front right.

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