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Tips for Beginning Sports Turf Managers: Part 1

Ensuring success as a sports turf manager. Tips from those tenured.

Veterans of the Sports Turf Management Association provided some insight for those looking to enter the industry. These insights can certainly be true for turfgrass manager within the industry looking to elevate themselves.

Weston Appelfeller, CSFM – Director of Grounds, Columbus Crew

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, whether it is new technology or new maintenance practices. Just because something has never been done, doesn’t mean it won’t work.
  • You must learn how to expand your knowledge and experiences. Reaching out to other sports turf managers in the industry will make you become a better turf manager and help you reach your ultimate career goals. Networking is one of the most influential factors to success.

Tony Leonard – Director of Grounds, Philadelphia Eagles

  • For the sports turf manager entering the industry, I think it’s important to be able to be mobile. Do not try to work in just one region.
  • It’s tough especially at the professional level to find that one position for your favorite home team. Be willing to relocate and gain as much knowledge as you can in different climates, situations, and facilities to make yourself more marketable.

Ron Hostick, CSFM – Manager Landscape and Site Services, California Polytechnic State University

  • Be impeccable with your word; if something you promised can’t be accomplished do not let it be due to a lack of trying.
  • If you close a sports field, always perform a maintenance task. Nobody likes to hear “the field needs to rest.” It can rest after you have aerated, fertilized, made a pesticide application or done a deep watering to flush the system.
  • Soil and tissue testing are powerful tools.
  • Having a 12-month maintenance plan/schedule is a necessity.
  • And the most important, schedule everything in advance, as far in advance as possible, and assume that equipment will break down and weather will not cooperate, so always have a backup plan.

Kevin Yeiser – Director of Grounds and Athletic Facilities, Lebanon Valley College

  • Pay attention to detail in every aspect of your job. Keeping small things from becoming major issues will help you sleep at night.
  • Document everything.
  • Network with fellow sports turf managers who have years of experience.

Jim Cornelius, CSFM – Services Manager at FSC Pro Services

  • Use your peers to help, most often they have been in a similar situation and most are willing to help. No matter how much education you have real life experience is worth its weight in gold.
  • Realize you don’t know everything and be honest with yourself and those you serve and work with.
  • Take time to smell the flowers. It is not always about the work or the job; balance your work with personal life and family and you will naturally succeed.

By Eric Schroder, Editor of Sports Turf Magazine

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