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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Page 32 of 51 February 2017 | SportsTurf 33 Murray Cook The Brickman Group We rebuilt the infi eld in Cuba in March 2016, ahead of the exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. It was in pretty rough condition and needed to be replaced. As the event approached we were informed there would be some special guests attending the game. It would mark the fi rst time a sitting President had visited Cuba since Calvin Coolidge. President Obama and family sat in the front row with Cuban president Raul Castro. We were told the local sod would be cut in large slabs but un- fortunately it arrived in 6-inch square pieces. We had 3 weeks to turn this infi eld into a safe playable fi eld using wheel barrels, shovels etc. We had daily meetings leading up to the event with Cuba's vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel and Fidel Castro's son, Antonio, as they wanted the fi eld to look the best it could be for this historical event. A backup plan was in place to fl y big roll sod into the country from Carolina green on US cargo planes but the grass began to grow in the fi nal 2 weeks so we stuck with the local sod. Somehow our team of turf gurus, Chad Olsen, Cindy Unger and our Cuban turf friends, were able to establish the young turf for the game using local materials. It was short of a miracle. Scott Stevens, CSFM Elon University, Elon, NC Let me start by saying that everyone makes mistakes and in every situation there is an opportunity for learning and growth. Being located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, we do not receive many snowstorms (usually one or two a year at most) and they typically end up mostly being ice events. When we do get snow, the snow often melts the following day. Toward the end of last January, we had one of those rare winter storms blow through our area. All told, we had about 2 inches of snowfall (which to northern states or mountainous ar- eas may seem insignifi cant, but in our area this is considered a lot). As it usually does, the snow began to melt the next day and refroze overnight on our fi elds. Our spring sports teams begin practice in January and start playing games in mid-February. Before this particular storm, the softball team decided to cover their infi eld to protect the dirt. When they went out to practice the day after the storm they found a sheet of icy snow covering their tarp. Given that it was early in the season and their practices had been going strong, they were anxious not to let a little foul weather slow them down. So, they decided to remove the snow from the tarp themselves using steel rakes and shovels. They began by using the shovels to chip the frozen melted snow and using the rakes to pull it into piles, which they then removed from the fi eld. The operation was quite the un- dertaking. They were successful in clearing the ice/snow from the fi eld and even posted their hard work on social media for all their followers to see how committed they were to preparing for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the dedicated team, the shovels and rakes they had used to remove the ice had punctured close to 5,000 holes in the tarp. In the end, the team learned valuable lessons about infi eld tarp care and post-weather event practice. Had they waited just one additional day after the storm last January, they would have saved their tarp and their trouble because the weather turned sunny and mid-50s and melted all the snow and ice (as is typi- cal for NC that time of year). Instead, they owned up to the mistake and spent a great deal of time patching their damaged tarp to the best of their abilities. The result still vaguely re- sembled a large slice of Swiss cheese, needless to say the sports turf team ended up using a lot more calcined clay every time it rained throughout the season to maintain the fi eld's playability. This fall the softball team purchased a new tarp for the upcom- ing season and will be communicating directly with the sports turf team before and after any major weather events. Eric Harshman Berea College, Lexington, KY When I worked at the University of Kentucky, before a late February softball tournament, I aerated the infi eld skin to help aid in thawing out the playing surface. This was done to speed the process of drawing out moisture. I then added a pallet of sure dry to get the fi eld playable, before tilling, grading and rolling. Murray Cook, left, with Fidel Castro's son, Antonio

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