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 8 of 51 February 2017 | SportsTurf 9 that are important to you. She continues to give time to their church and sacrifices many hours to volunteering on committees and leadership roles. My father taught me that hard work is a choice, not an ability. My father has been a farmer his whole life and he worked midnight shifts for 17 years on the weekends to help support our family. He also taught me how to manage people. He was always so patient, understanding, yet demanding when necessary. Those that worked for him always respected him. My hope is that I have used the lessons from both my parents and will continue to apply it to all that I do in my life. ST: How did you decide where to go to college and what your major would be? Van Loo: When I first graduated high school I started working for a country club golf course. The superintendent was a Michigan State graduate, so that was a huge part of my decision. Also, having grown up in Michigan, Michigan State was the agriculture school, so where else would I have gone? ST: Now that you've been working in turf management for awhile, are there any changes you'd like to see in how the major is taught at the collegiate level? Van Loo: I think the biggest thing that allows students to be successful is the experiences they have before they graduate and enter the turf industry. Sometimes I think the image of this business is more appealing than the actual grind it can be on some days. It's a must to work in this industry while in school to make sure you have a passion for it. Without a passion, one won't last. After that, I think combining the school knowledge with the real world is the biggest struggle for recent graduates. The weather and schedules on athletic fields doesn't always allow you to do what is best for the field. You will have to be able to compromise some book knowledge and make it work with what you have learned from being forced to do things on a different schedule or with challenging weather. Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it! ST: What was your first job out of college, and what were the most memorable things you learned from that job? Van Loo: Northwestern University was my first job out of college. I was finishing up my Master's degree from Michigan State and thought I was ready to take on the world managing athletic fields. I learned so much at Northwestern, and am still grateful for my three seasons there. First, it's where I learned to work with coaches, staff, and co-workers. It allowed me to apply some of the things I had learned from Amy Fouty, CSFM, while working for her at [Michigan State's] Spartan Stadium. Second, it allowed me to figure out "my style" of growing grass. While in graduate school I did many different research projects while also working at Spartan Stadium. I have tried to marry the two worlds in how I manage the fields that I am responsible for. ST: What other jobs did you have before your current position and what did you take away from them? Van Loo: In the time after high school and before I left Michigan State I had managed to work on a golf course in some capacity for a total of 10 seasons, Spartan Stadium for three seasons, Hancock Turf Research Center [at MSU] for 7 years, and help install the Olympic soccer pitch for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. I had an unbelievable experience at Michigan State and tried to be a sponge during the ride. The research allowed me to not fear "killing grass"; if you kill it enough, you know how to bring it back. Establishing turf after you killed it allows you to not fear damaging the turf. It allows you to freely manage knowing you can always get it back! ST: Describe relationships you've had with mentors. Van Loo: I will only comment on a few of them, but there have been so many people that have molded me in who I am today. Dr. Trey Rogers was my major professor at Michigan State. I got to know him on a much more personal level than most students; I helped him coach his daughters basketball team, for example. Through many conversations with Dr. Rogers I learned how to think big picture. Seeing situations from 10,000 feet has helped me to step away from the immediate issue and see the big picture. Dr. James Crum was another one of my professors at Michigan State. We had a lot of discussions about passions outside of work. The way he approached work, family, and his passions was life changing and impactful. Amy Fouty was Tim's family: his bride, Amber; sons Brian, Jaheim, Breon, and Steven; and daughters Emefa and Samantha.

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