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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FROM THE SIDELINES 6 SportsTurf | June 2017 EPG Media & Specialty Information 10405 6th Ave. N., Ste 210 Plymouth, MN 55441 The Official Publication Of The Sports Turf Managers Association SALES REPRESENTATIVES Chris Pelikan Senior Account Manager - East Phone: (763) 383-4408 Peggy Tupper Senior Account Manager - Midwest Phone: (763) 383-4429 Leslie Palmer Senior Account Manager - West Phone: (763) 383-4460 EDITORIAL Group Publisher: David Voll Editorial Director: Eric Schroder Technical Editor: Dr. Joey Young Art Director: Jean Blackmer Production Manager: Angela Scott SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Phone: (847) 513-6025 Fax: (763) 383-4497 REPRINTS Robin Cooper GROUP PUBLISHER David Voll DIRECT MAIL LIST SALES MeritDirect, Jim Scova Phone: (914) 368-1012 THE IRONY OF IT ALL Eric Schroder Editorial Director 763-383-4458 S o I'm sitting in the front row of a nearly full hotel ballroom at the STMA Conference last January as a presentation by Drs. John Sorochan and Andy McNitt, the latter with whom I'd just been chatting, began. Andy started to answer a question about why high schools choose synthetic turf over natural grass when building new fields, and he clicked for a photo to come up on the big screens flanking the riser. As I looked at the photo being shown, Andy was mentioning how poor design and maintenance prevents schools from having great natural fields; I could see a familiar- looking scoreboard in the background. My shoulders slumped when I recognized it as being the scoreboard at my son's field. But since Andy works about 90 miles from this field, I wasn't surprised. Opened in Spring 2014, my son's freshman year, as part of a $45 million new parochial high school campus, the baseball field sits on ground that is higher than the school, the football field and parking. On the first base side, maybe 30 yards at most from the foul line, the ground naturally slopes down steeply, a 15-20 foot drop. Along third base, there's even less room between the line and a slope steep enough that you're walking on your ankles only 5 feet behind the dugout. It wouldn't have taken an expert to see how crowning the space would lead to natural drainage down these hills. That first year there was no scoreboard and no water line. There was plenty of "This field's going to be so great by the time our sons are seniors" talk though. But the architect and the builder allegedly planned on having water drain out to centerfield, away from the slopes, and buried the outfield drains too deep to function. Of course the builder was a school alum that owns a construction company, and the subcontractor who built the field had never done so previously. One school staff member was responsible for maintenance of the entire campus. Proper baseball field upkeep may not even have been on his priority list. Throughout the 4 years I've been on and around this field, the coaching staff, aided at times by parent volunteers, exerted steadfast effort in repairing and preparing the field. And it ain't been easy between extremely poor drainage and not enough resources to make the grass grow well. In early May this year a parent snapped a pic of the shortstop standing at his position with water over his ankles; 10 minutes later the dad drove by a rival school's field--dry as a bone. The baseball program has been stuck with a lemon. It's ironic given my job that my son would play on a field that many readers might describe as unsafe. Should I or could I have done more? I'm in no position to offer advice; honestly for the first 3 years I was more concerned about my son's position on the team than the deteriorating field. Unofficially the field is going to be completely redone late this summer, and it's believed that someone involved in construction has given money to that end. Lesson learned: hire a professional!

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