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 46 of 51

www.spor 47 December 2017 // of the goal mouth areas for both lacrosse teams has been one of the biggest challenges while trying to minimize the dishing effect that often occurs with the goal mouth areas as the season moves along. Trying to manage those areas while trying to provide a safe surface for soccer also has been a truly challenging experience. All three of those spring field sports are state champion caliber teams and the expectation for a safe and playable surface is set very high by each team. Marc Moran Marc Moran writes: "The success of the Atlee High School Turf Science Program can be attributed to several things. Aside from our group of hard- working students we have a built a program that is predicated on relationships with the turf industry, our community, our school/ sports administration and our coaching staff." "We have worked hard to try to include our school community in our program. Through social media and other efforts we try to keep our local community informed of things that we are doing on campus and other exciting things that are happening in the industry. Our community is the reason why our program has been able to grow over the past 15 years. Our community had changed; in order to meet their needs our school system saw a need to change as well. From that change came the Turf Management program within our Agriculture/Horticulture Department. We also offer workshops on turf care for the community. We have found that by working with the community and keeping them informed of the latest trends in turf management by addressing sound environmental practices and strategies. We showcase the STEM principles so prevalent in the education arena today and we work hard to reinforce those principles to help our students in their other academic courses. "One of the strongest relationships our program has forged over the years has been with our athletic administration. We have an open dialog daily that helps prepare for the work we do each day to prepare our facilities for any games that are being played or any special consideration for practice areas. We work the administration to prioritize management of fields and facilities and any work that needs to be done or will need to be addressed in the near or distant future. Our conversations focus on field safety, playability, and aesthetics. We work with our athletic director to determine the impact of weather and what adjustments may need to be made to game schedules in order to preserve the integrity of the playing service and safety of our student-athletes. "We are directly involved in the long-term planning of our athletic complex and work with the administration to set realistic goals and immediate solutions to address pressing concerns that may show themselves before those future plans are implemented. "We provide contracting services for the athletic administration and work with them to help with post-game stadium maintenance and we use those services to help fund equipment upgrades for our program and to build our resources that have allowed our program stay current with mowing and application equipment. "An open dialogue with our coaches is where we have found that we can make the greatest impact. As a former high school coach and now a middle school coach, I call on those experiences as I work with coaches to provide them the best practice and game facilities possible. I try to meet with coaches at least weekly to see what they needs have and to also observe how they practice. "We have found that by understanding their practice styles, we can better serve their need when it comes to field layouts and the management of high-wear areas. For example, our soccer coaches do a lot of half field work, so now we have modified our painting plan I order to allow them to slide their field day to day that has allowed us to nearly eliminate goal mouth wear that was so prevalent in the past. We have since developed rotation practice plans for Soccer, Football, Field Hockey, Lacrosse and Marching Band. "Without interaction with our coaches, these changes would not be possible. They see us as a partner in their team's success and we take a lot of pride in giving them practice fields that may be equal to the competitions game facilities. Change is challenging for everyone, but showing an interest in their success has allowed us to progress in such a way that has allowed the change to be less painful and ultimately more rewarding for their team. In the past, we painted lines for drills, now we use cones. We would pregame in goal mouth areas, now we move the goal for pre-game. These small suggestions have helped our coaches maintain the integrity of the field and ultimately have helped us to reduce repairs and ultimately reduce operating costs. "We have been building relationships in the turf industry since we started the program and actually before that. We used industry partners to help us build our curriculum and worked with those partners to make sure we are are current and looking to the future to remain relevant. Through experiences at STMA and our VSTMA Chapter, we have encountered tremendous support from sports turf professionals at all levels from across the country. Almost every facet of our program has been influenced by our involvement in STMA Conferences and publications. The willingness of the profession to share information has allowed us to grow. I strive to share that spirit of professionalism with my students and the partners that surround our program. "We have been able to achieve the success we have had because of our connections with these groups. Our students take pride in being able to put the very best out there each day." /ST/

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