June 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 38 of 51

FIELD OF THE YEAR June 2017 | SportsTurf 39 WHY STMA SHOULD CONSIDER YOUR FIELD A WINNER FOR BASEBALL? I believe STMA should consider Pacer Field a winner because it has come a very long way in the 2 years since my arrival, and has become well known locally and regionally as a well maintained playing surface. Upon my arrival in September 2014, Pacer Field was in great need of help. The turf had gone dormant from lack of water and nutrients, it was covered in weeds and disease, and dangerous lips had formed at all grass-dirt interfaces. My most immediate goal was to return the field to a healthy state. I developed a sound agronomic program that included proper fertilization, irrigation, and an aggressive verticutting/ core aeration schedule. Then, I focused attention on the safety/ playability concerns of the surface. I removed all built up lips, resurfaced the pitcher's mound and home plate, built brand new on-field double bullpens for each team and corrected the poor warning track grade. Bringing Pacer Field back to life has not been an easy en- deavor. To begin, I am responsible for 5 acres of natural playing surfaces and I do not have a staff or assistant. I am also limited in budget allowance and equipment. I am given a total budget of $22,000 to care for all four fields at Marywood. To make things more difficult, this particular field also does not have an automatic irrigation system or internal drainage. In order to properly irrigate, I must use an automatic reeling water wheel and two 360 degree stationary sprinklers, which I have to move 10-15 times. The entire process takes 8 hours. You can imagine how time consuming it can be during periods of drought just to simply keep the field alive. The weather has been constantly extreme since my arrival. A historically cold winter of '14-'15 was followed by intense heat in summer 2015. An unbelievably mild winter of '15-'16 was followed by the #4 hottest summer in Scranton history. 104 days reached above 80 degrees this year, which set a new re- cord. Also, Pacer Field received 12" of rain in a 30-day period from 7/25/16-8/24/16. With saturated soil temps above 80 for much of the summer, disease pressure was through the roof. Despite the many challenges I've faced, I am proud to say that Pacer Field is always in the best shape possible for each practice and game. I am thrilled when I receive compliments from players, coaches and parents. Our student-athletes invest a great deal of money to enroll here, and it is always my goal to provide them with a playing surface they can take pride in. WHY STMA SHOULD CONSIDER YOUR FIELD A WINNER FOR SOFTBALL? I believe Pacer Field should be consid- ered as the STMA Softball FOY because it has become the premier soft- ball facility, locally and regionally, in the two years that I have been caring for it. Upon my arrival in September 2014, the field had slipped into dormancy from a lack of water and nutrients. Lips several inches in height had built up at all dirt- grass interfaces. The infield skin grade was poor and there were no bullpen facilities. In short, it was a field that needed plenty of attention. Much of the repair work occurred in 2015 and continued into this year. The first goal was to return the turf to a healthy state. This meant planning a sound nutrient program and making sure the field never slipped into dormancy from drought. Unfortu- nately, this field does not have an automatic irrigation system. In order to properly irrigate, I use a 360 degree stationary sprin- kler, fed from a 1" hose, which I must move approximately 10- 15 times to cover the entire field. This process takes about 6-8 hours. You can imagine how time consuming it can be to keep the grass irrigated and mowed while also caring for two other fields, with no staff to assist me. The weather has been nothing short of extreme during my time here. Summer 2016 ranked as Scranton's fourth hottest. 104 days reached 80 or above, a new record, and 90 degrees was reached 20 times. This followed a record-setting warm winter. Summer 2015 was similarly hot. Keeping the turf stress- free has been a constant challenge. A preventative fungicide schedule and routine core aeration have been crucial in saving the grass from decline. Another area that needed attention was lip removal and proper grading of the skin. The lips were removed shortly after my arrival with a sod cutter, but I wasn't able to laser grade the skin until my budget allowed. This occurred in August 2016. 50 tons of material were added, tilled and graded by an outside contractor. I spent approximately 25% of budget, which covers all the fields, on this project alone. This has greatly increased the playability and aesthetics of the infield surface, which is so crucial in softball. I installed two bullpen areas, one for each team, in the fall of 2015. They are standard 16' radius circles with in-ground plates

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