February 2017

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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30 SportsTurf | February 2017 FACILITY & OPERATIONS WATER ISSUES HIT INDUSTRY In the early 1980s, Aurora, CO, outlawed the use of turf in lawns because of a water issue. "That was the first time we had that big a hit to the sod industry," says Cockerham. "We, as sod producers and ASPA, realized water issues were not going away." With California's persistent water problem, Cockerham had been researching turfgrass water use and, as researchers know, you always have to qualify, quantify and document scientific information. He says, "I met with Dr. Victor Gibeault, professor at UCR and long-time friend, to coordinate and co-chair what became"Turfgrass Water Conservation" symposium. It featured research experts from education and industry who addressed water conservation as it relates to turfgrass selection, production and maintenance. The University of California had agreed to publish the proceedings, if we developed it." Cockerham encouraged ASPA to sponsor the symposium. It was offered as a pre-conference event in conjunction with the 1983 Midwinter Conference in San Antonio, TX. Gibeault provided a summary of the symposium in a Conference session. The first edition of Turfgrass Water Conservation, co-edited by Cockerham and Gibeault, was published in 1985. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE In 1983, Cockerham became Superintendent of Agricultural Operations for the agricultural experiment station of the University of California, Riverside. His background made him uniquely qualified for the position. Cockerham says, "It was a fully administrative appointment, with the superintendent responsible to the Dean and the academic senate. That meant I'd need to have a publication history to get promoted. Vic Gibeault was already working in turf there, so we collaborated to put together a significant research program and the facility to operate it. We'd establish a second facility a few years later." The 1984 Olympics drew him into the sports turf industry. "I worked with sod growers at both the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl to prepare the fields for the events held there." When the World Cup came to California in 1994, Cockerham worked with Dr. Jim Watson, turfgrass expert with the Toro Company, on preparing all nine venues for soccer. They were at the Stanford University field in Palo Alto, when Cockerham experienced what he terms, "my biggest scare." We were putting down the turf when I realized it was netted sod. I was the guy that invented it and knew I was going to have to explain the concept to someone. I was overwhelmed by self-doubt at that moment. As it turned out, the netting was deep enough that the players' cleats didn't cut into it—and when they wore down the grass, the netting tore instead of catching their cleats. It was a wow moment. I'd had visions of one of those million dollar players ending his career." Typical of Cockerham, when he gets involved in an industry, he becomes a force in it. He served as president of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) in 1989. He was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. William H. Daniel Award, which honors educators/researchers for their service to the industry, in 1991 and 1998. And he was the recipient of the 2005 President's Award for Leadership. The books he developed during his tenure with UCR made an equally impressive impact. Aiming to open doors, Cockerham wrote Turfgrass Sod Production, a basic guide and reference manual, which was published in 1988. He says, "It was written for new employees of established companies; turfgrass students; and those going into the business. Many in the sod industry liked it and some contributed to it. But those guarding their 'trade secrets' were not happy with me." His next book, Establishing and Maintaining the Natural Turf Athletic Field, "a practical guide to sports turf culture," was published in 2004. When Gibeault retired in 2007, Cockerham organized a second water symposium to honor his work. The second edition of "Turfgrass Water Conserva- tion," published in 2011, was a byproduct of this symposium. Cockerham co-edited the second edition with Bernd Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist at New Mexico State University. "We added a 'Practicum' chapter of practical information, gleaned from each technical chapter, especially for practitioners, administra- tors in planning and operations, politicians, public agencies, educators, and students." DIRECTOR EMERITUS Cockerham retired in 2010 as director emeritus of UCR agricultural operations and, of course, he is still "working on some things." He's researching a range of cultural practices on a few paspalum cultivars to assess their performance in the Riverside, CA, climate. He has rekindled the unfinished De Anza zoysia project. De Anza, and its sister zoysia, Victoria, were patented and released from the UCR turfgrass breeding and research program through his collaboration with Gibeault. "De Anza was the first turfgrass used in what was then named Bank One Ballpark, home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. Its attributes are so strong, it deserves a closer look. I'm also working on an irrigation sensor study funded by a water conservation grant from Toro." In the early 1980s, Aurora, CO, outlawed the use of turf in lawns because of a water issue. "That was the first time we had that big a hit to the sod industry," says Cockerham.

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