December 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 45 of 51

www.spor 46 // December 2017 and make management decisions. That being the case, most of the field work was done at great expense in regards to "extra" time by coaches, and weekend time by parents. When Atlee High School opened its Turf Science Program in 2001, it instantly became a perfect fit to teach students about the turf industry, sports turf, and to work to improve the school and its facilities. By using our sports fields as a land laboratory, our students get a hands-on approach to what it means to maintain and manage a large, high profile facility. This relationship has also helped to relieve the burden of field management from many coaches. Students mow, paint, fertilize, seed, and manage the facility. They make suggestions for improvements and identify challenges that may often go overlooked by many coaches. They take ownership in its appearance and work hard to improve every aspect of its operation. Their hard work has helped them earn 3 previous STMA Field of the Year awards for Football, Soccer and Softball. We currently have 58 students enrolled in our turf science courses and each one works on this field in some capacity. They learn to operate reel mowers, rotary mowers, tractors, paint equipment, and a variety of other implements as well. Students also participate in the mechanical component of the curriculum where they work with diesel engines, hydraulics, and various mechanical systems to repair or service equipment that we use at the facility. Students even develop custom stencils for field graphics and designs that are to be painted on our fields. Every graphic and stencil that we use in our field marking is custom made by our students. We take a hands-on approach to learning in the area of turf science. All students in the program receive a real-life exposure to the pressures and demands of managing a sports turf facility, as well as the high level of management that a quality playing surface demands. It has been a great relationship between a strong curriculum and a school that has strong need to for quality sports surfaces. These students manage nearly 22 8 acres of athletic fields every week with a weekly calendar that only allows 13 to 15 hours each week for maintenance. Just as in a professional setting, my students have to meet a time deadline and be ready to deal with any weather scenario that may come to us. We are constantly looking for new ways to tackle challenges and to make our facility better and better. It is truly a labor of love. In 2010, we added lacrosse as a club sport in our school system and it became a full varsity sport in 2012 with both men's and women's being added. In 2014, our athletic administration decided it was time to move all varsity lacrosse (Men's and Women's) to our stadium facility that was already home to 4 soccer teams and their games. We learned very quickly that were going to have to improve our management or settle for severely worn creases and goal mouth areas. We suffered a very steep learning curve during the first season and worked very hard during the off season to make repairs and generate a new management plan that we hoped would help make the second season on the stadium much better. Through a close relationship with the coaching staff, we managed to establish a "No Pre-Game Zone" during varsity games that kept the goalie from warming up in traditional goal mouth. By simply moving the goalie during our pre- game routine, we were ale to severely reduce wear in our game goal mouth areas and keep that are pretty much covered in grass during the season. Along with our pre-game system, we included a pre- and post-game seeding program where we placed ryegrass seed in critical wear areas. This allowed for us to build a seed bank and allowed for turf healing during periods of no play. During the season we also experimented with sideline treatments to help relieve the stress in the player and coaches areas, but those efforts are still in the early stages and a lot of improvement is still needed in that area. We are currently seeking funding for a sideline tarp to place in the player and coaches areas to help relieve damage from traffic. Since adding the two teams to our stadium, we have had to work harder to provide the level of safety, playability, and aesthetics that we have been known for over several years. We have enjoyed the challenge, and have battled through some frustrating times and seem to have an idea how to work within a relative new sport for us and have built a relationship with coaches and administration that has allowed us to improve with each season. My students take a lot of pride and ownership in the facility and work hard to give our athletes and team the very best and try to create that Home Field Advantage. Sporting grounds During the spring, our main stadium is used for 3 varsity field sports as well as outdoor track. Traditionally, our field was only used for Soccer and Track, but in 2014 we added Varsity Women's Lacrosse and Men's Lacrosse to our games scheduled on the facility. Management

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