A Sincere Thank YOU

Statement from Jerad Minnick on President’s Award For Leadership

“Game Changer”. What a tremendous theme for the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) national conference last week. The STMA gathering in San Diego involved non-stop sharing and idea generation between Sports Turf Managers from around the world. Friday night’s Awards Banquet was the culmination. Founder’s Award were presented, Fields of the Year were all honored, and students were praised.  Each and every person or team honored, unique in their own way, overcome challenge to create great things with hard work and professionalism. An absolutely wonderful night all around. Bravo STMA!

Former President Allen Johnson’s presentation of the President’s Award for Leadership turned the banquet personal for me. In introducing the award, Mr. Johnson’s description of leadership was captivating. What a wonderful description. “It (leadership) is an act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simply needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds stacked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.”

Working daily with Sports Field Managers and seeing first hand the effort they put into their natural grass fields is the best part of my role as an Advisor. Especially when perception and teaching still is that natural grass fields can not sustain an increased amount of use. Yet all around us Sports Field Managers make the impossible possible every single day. They display passion and perseverance. Many times they are required to sacrifice. But they forge on and get the job done because they love what they do.

With the description of “leadership” that President Johnson gave, I could think of so many people that deserve a leadership award. When “Jerad Minnick” came from his mouth, I nearly fell from my chair (that, or my colleague and friend Simon Gumbrill might have pushed me!). I appreciate the award greatly. THANK YOU. But this award really belongs to all of YOU. YOU vendors in our industry that are creating new solutions for old problems. YOU Sports Field Managers who are willing to buy into new ideas and set examples of how natural grass sustain an increased amount of use. Without your professionalism and hard work to produce shining examples of high quality, high use natural grass fields, I would just look like a raving lunatic living in a land of fantasy! THANK YOU to each and every one of YOU for what YOU do in proving that natural grass fields can take more!

And a heart felt THANK YOU to former President Johnson for the recognition. It’s special to receive a leadership award from a President that lead us all by example. Mr. Johnson, your professionalism and hard work makes the impossible possible… growing perfect grass for the Green Bay Packers. Thank you Mr. Johnson. You give us all an example to follow.

It is truly an honor to receive the President’s Award for Leadership. But ultimately, this award isn’t for or about Jerad Minnick… its about every one of YOU that prove wrong the perception natural grass can not take an increased amount of use. But we have no time for celebrate, our work is only STARTED. I hope YOU are excited as I am about the bright future for Sports Field Managers and the potential for natural grass fields. #GrassCanTakeMore!

“Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”- Pele 

 

Transcript from Former President Allen Johnson’s introduction of the President’s Award for Leadership:

There are many different ideas of what constitutes the word Leadership. For the purposes of this award tonight, I’d like to define what leadership means to me. Its the act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simples needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds staked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.

I do not personally know the individual that I have selected for tonight’s honor, but I know of them. I have shaken their hand only twice and said hello. However, I am aware of this person’s pursuit of their goal. At a time when it is so desperately needed in our industry, this person has been a staunch advocate for natural grass and its’ use as a playing surface for athletes across all sports and age groups. They have not only been a leading voice for the benefits that natural grass provides, but they have also benefited our industry by introducing ideas and concepts which push the professional sports field manager to better themselves, to push the envelope in their management techniques, and become even more valuable to their organizations.

Promoting the benefits of natural grass for athletic surfaces is not only highlighted as one of the main goals in the STMA’s strategic plan, it is sorely needed in our industry because it rarely has a voice to speak on its behalf. For these reasons I can think of no better person or no better time to honor this year’s Presidential Award for Leadership as Jerad Minnick.

 

“Let There Be Light” Follow Up

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There has been great idea exchange and feedback stemming from a recent article in SportsField Management “Let There Be Light”.  Thank you for that!! The article examines the introduction and use of supplemental light units for natural grass fields, back to its introduction from SGL in Holland.

What an enjoyable piece to put together! It stems from an “ah ha” moment during a recent visit to the UK.  A training ground was using the SGL light system for growth and recovery on high-use area on the training fields.  But wait?  Isn’t supplemental lighting just for stadiums with big roofs and shade?

NO!

When turfgrass growth slows in the fall/ winter/ spring, we concede the loss of growth to the time of the year.  The growth is slowed, yes by temperature in cold areas, but just as much by sun angle and day length.  8 hours of day length with the sun low on the horizon is not enough for grass to grow.  Thus is goes dormant.

And grasses themselves are grouped and described as “shade tolerant”.  Yet ultimately it really has nothing to do with shade.  “Shade tolerant” grasses simply require less light for maximum growth.  A great example is from the initial success of Latitude 36 bermudagrass in the transition zone.  In its first few year, Latitude has dramatically out performed other cold tolerant bermudagrass varieties in fall color and growth in the transition  zone.  Why does Latitude 36 sustain growth in the fall as temperatures fall and day length gets shorter?  Because it is a cold tolerant variety right?

Not all the case!  Latitude 36 is a very cold tolerant variety of bermudagrass. But via a new study from the USGA on “Development of Shade-Tolerant Bermudagrass Cultivars”, Latitude 36 now looks to be the most shade tolerant of all bermudas.  But again, its not just about shade… its about light requirement.  Latitude 36 stays strong with growth well into the fall because 1) yes, its a cold tolerant variety, BUT also 2) it requires less light to sustain growth.  As day length gets shorter and the sun angle gets lower in the sky through the fall, Latitude 36 is able to keep growing.

I reference the article “Pour Some Light On Me” from Dr. Karl Danneberger.  Dr. Dannenberger put all of these points into perspective magically several years ago.  THANK YOU for that!  Dr. Dannenberger references another study that caught my attention from Dr. B. Todd Bunnell and Dr. Bert McCarty on light requirement for TifEagle putting greens.  (Their study started in 2001, not 2004 as SportField Management referenced.  The GCSAA article was published August, 2004).  The article, “Sunlight requirements for ultradwarf bermudagrass greens” is tremendous.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ultimately, turfgrass plants need light.  And supplemental light provides the opportunity for growth and recovery year round, where Mother Nature does not provide for year round growth from sunlight.  Hence, a training ground using supplemental light to promote growth and recover on high-traffic fields is not wasteful, but instead GENIUS!

That unique situation and the “ah ha” moment was a first, but there is no doubt that it will NOT be the last! With this type of innovation and technology, GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

See the full article here:  “Let There Be Light”, SportsField Management

JM

Announcement: Natural Grass Advisory Group™

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Natural Grass Advisory Group™ Launched By Growing Innovations For Independent Education and Support For Natural Grass Maintenance

GINGAG Annoucement PDF

Rockville, MD- The Natural Grass Advisory Group™ has recently been launched by Growing Innovations, LLC. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ (NGAG) is an independent education and support organization for natural grass sport surfaces. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ personnel and representatives soon will work world wide to independently advise and back natural grass sports fields, equestrian surfaces, golf courses, and home lawns.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on providing solutions for the on-going challenge of maintaining high-use natural grass surfaces. Historical perception has been that natural grass surfaces can sustain only limited use and require long closure periods for repairs. That perception is no longer reality. With evolving maintenance, new technology, and objective data from surface testing, Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on increasing natural grass use and reduce repairs.

NGAG work proves GrassCanTakeMore™!

Lead Advisor for the Natural Grass Advisory Group™ is Mr. Jerad Minnick. Minnick, a natural grass educator and advocate, is stepping down from his current position of President at Growing Innovations. This change ensures full independence of all NGAG education and support. Minnick will continue as an advisor for Growing Innovations projects and clients. Growing Innovations will immediately start the search for a new President. This person will foster relationships with existing GI partners and spear head the new GI research and surface testing/ data collection program utilized by NGAG and other Growing Innovations clients.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™: www.NaturalGrass.Org @GrassRevolution(twitter)

Lead Advisor Jerad Minnick is at jerad@NaturalGrass.org or @JeradRMinnick(twitter)

About Growing Innovations: Growing Innovations, LLC is a consulting firm dedicated to creating and providing advocacy for new solutions for old problems. Based in Rockville, MD, Growing Innovations provides support for clients in over 10 countries working within the natural grass maintenance industry. Growing Innovations inspiration comes from Albert Einstein: “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking that we used to create them”.

 For More Information: Contact Tori@GrowingInnovations.Net

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Rain, Rain, Rain: Play Through on Natural Grass!

Early in the day this past Saturday in Toronto, the rain began to fall. It was light at first, but it prevailed and increased in intensity through the afternoon. Match time for Toronto FC v DC United was 5pm. The rain continued throughout, with veteran Washington Post Soccer Insider Mr. Steven Goff tweeting “Raining so hard here in Toronto, looks like snow falling in front of floodlights” and again “Halftime in Hurricane”. Following that MLS match, Toronto FC II played host to the Wilmington Hammerheads with the rain continuing. By 10pm, 1.5” of rain had fallen and 180 mins of soccer had been played with no more than a scratch on the field.

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

The Saturday weather scene was nearly identical down the eastern USA coast. In Philadelphia at PPL Park, the rain started before and continued through the Philadelphia Union match. 1.3” total from 2pm to 10pm Saturday. 1” of that came just before or during the match. At Maryland SoccerPlex the heavy rain subsided just before match time. 1.75” in volume dumped in less than one hour as the Washington Spirit took the field. Toyota Stadium in Dallas experienced similar just 3 nights prior when 1.5” of rain drenched just before the FC Dallas match. 1/2” more pelted the players, fans, and field during the match. And each time, each field responded with strength and resilience.

1.75" in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

1.75″ in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

And the examples list goes on. Heavy rain across the central and eastern United States this past week played havoc on soccer matches.

Each of these are dramatic yet wonderful examples of how the perception “Grass fields always get rained out” is an absolute MYTH. The fact about rain and grass fields is simple: A natural grass field, when built or renovated correctly for drainage, can be 100% rain-out proof.

Yes, nearly any and all rain-out prone grass fields can be renovated easily to reduce or eliminate rainouts. And at 1/5 to 1/15 of the cost of replacing the field with artificial.

THANK YOU and KUDOS to every hard working Sports Field Manager, in ALL sports, who have fought through the recent rains. There are numerous more examples of natural grass fields sustaining play through the long, wet spring and early summer in the south and midwest to east. Your work provides more and more shining examples of how #GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

Stay tuned to GrowingGreenGrass.net in the next week for ideas and examples of renovation and maintenance tricks to help reduce/ eliminate rain-outs.

1.5" of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

1.5″ of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

15 mins later: 1.5" drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)

15 mins later: 1.5″ drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)

Always Improving! University of Portland’s Merlo Field Universe Fraze Mow #2 Results

This week University of Portland’s Merlo Field became the first cool season turfgrass field in the United States to employ Universe Fraze Mowing for a second time.  In April, 2014, Field Manager Jordon Montgomery also was the first, as the first ever USA Field Manager to turn to the process for cool season turfgrass to remove:

70% poa annua population
– 1″ layer of thatch
– Reduce a thick layer of organic matter accumulated on the top of the sand based soil

The 2015 results of the Universe Fraze Mowing process were superb.

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Patch Removed

Poa Annua Patch Removed

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Poa Annua plants and seed have been removed, along with 2014’s thatch and organic build up to keep the field surface from becoming slick.  Now new ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass seed will be sewed.  But even more importantly for durability and increased field use, the improved turfgrass varieties of RPR Ryegrass and HGT Kentucky bluegrass seeded last year following the Universe Fraze Mow can re-generate.  This will encourage the grasses to spread, ultimately increasing the tensile strength of the base surface to reduce divoting and wear.

2014 reduced the poa annua population from 70% to 20%.

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

The 1″ thatch layer was also removed along with the top of a thick organic layer.  The removal yielded a dramatically better playing surface.  The clean and re-generated surface is tight and strong, leading to nearly no divoting even when being used in the rain.  After 3 months of camps in Summer of 2014, a full men’s and women’s college schedule in the fall, and 13 spring matches, the field was nearly perfect when the 2015 Universe Fraze Mowing took place.

Thick, Dense Stand Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches,  Full Men's and Women's Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

Thick, Dense Stand Monday, Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches, Full Men’s and Women’s Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

When Merlo Field is/ was in such excellent condition and the poa annua had been dramatically reduced, why Universe Fraze Mowing in 2015?

Simple.  Improvement.

From Field Manager Jordon Montgomery… “We want to continue to improve the playing surface while increasing use. The introduction Portland Timbers 2, the USL pro team calling Merlo Field home is an example of that.  All our home teams and events need the best playing surface we can provide while being environmentally and budget conscious.  That all leads to Universe Fraze Mowing”.  

#GrassCanTakeMore.

AMAZING EVOLUTION & Quick History!  Universe fraze mowing cool season turfgrass was first performed at Paris St-Germain’s Parc des Princes Stadium in July of 2013.  New Head Groundsman Jonathan Calderwood chose the bold method, previously only used in the United States on bermudagrass, to remove the poa annua plants in his pitch and leave behind the existing desirable Kentucky bluegrass and Ryegrass.

PSG Renovation July 2013 (32)

So yes… Universe Fraze Mowing is DIFFERENT than basic fraise mowing.  Fraise mowing was introduced in 1996 by Mr. Ko Rodenburg, Superintendent of Parks Maintenance in Rotterdam, Holland when he invited the KORO Field Topmaker.  Rodenburg invented the machine to clean the poa annua seed off the top of his playing fields and to encourage some basic regeneration.  Fraise mowing was born!

With the introduction of the KORO Universe® Rotor for the Field Topmaker in winter of 2012-2013; allowing stolons and rhizomes on spreading grasses to remain while removing organic, thatch, and weed seed; lead to Universe Fraze Mowing directly from this blog to Mr. Allen Reed and Mr. Miles Studhalter’s bermuda fields at FC Dallas.  See for details: Summary of a new concept; Fraze Mowing & Concept to Active Practice; Fraze Mowing Debuts at FC Dallas.   The use on bermudagrass had started, then Mr. Calderwood working with Mr. Simon Gumbrill from Campey Turf Care, took the lessons from bermudagrass and implemented them to cool season. Now Jordon Montgomery in Portland as taken it even further with repeated use.  AMAZING how it continues to evolve with creative minded Field Managers ready and willing to try to new things!  #GrassCanTakeMore!

#GrassCanTakeMore Comes Alive!

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#GrassCanTakeMore Comes Alive!

#GrassCanTakeMore successfully came alive this week in the first ever #GrassCanTakeMore seminar from Growing Innovations and Turf Republic in Rockville, MD on Tuesday.

THANK YOU to the 81 participants that took part in the event. The exchange of ideas was fantastic! Your search for solutions and willingness to ask questions absolutely made the event a success! And THANK YOU to Mr. Dave Nehila and Mr. John Turnour for sharing with group and feeding the idea exchange. Wow, great!

Additionally, Thank You to Genesis Turfgrass, Finch Inc, and Oakwood Sod for supporting #GrassCanTakeMore as the event sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Look to @GrowingInnovations on twitter, www.growinginnovations.net and @TurfRepublic on Twitter, Facebook, and www.TurfRepublic.com for more information from the event.

Also look for announcements for the next upcoming #GrassCanTakeMore events. New, creative, budget responsible solutions are marking it possible to improve grass field quality and meet that demand to increase use. #GrassCanTakeMore Grass Field Workshops bring you these solutions in real-life, usable steps to take home to improve grass fields.

THANK YOU again to all of the participants. Grass Fields Can Take More!

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Grass IS Taking More! On Pro Soccer Field of the Year

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This piece is written in reference to:  Turning Green Into Gold; How Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex Became the First Women’s Soccer Venue to Win Professional Field of the Year


The perception that natural grass fields can’t sustain heavy use is starting to go away. There are a growing number of examples around the world of heavy use grass fields that are maintained in excellent shape. Even with smaller budgets.

But still the “how much can grass take” debate still is ongoing. How much CAN a grass field take!? Truly so many factors are involved. Ultimately the examples of amazing fields around the world simply go back to using new and better tools for maintenance and also focusing on the skills of professional, creative, hard working Sports Field Managers.

What an exciting time!

Maryland Soccer Foundation shared a wonderful example of how grass can take more this week in an article highlighting their Sports Field Maintenance crew on the STMA Professional Soccer Field of the Year, Hendricks Field. With that award, Hendricks recently became the first ever professional women’s field in any sport to win a Field of the Year award. But even more unique, the field hosted over 750 hours of non-professional sporting events in additional to the professional use. Hendricks won 2011 Parks Soccer Field of the Year as well during a year hiatus of women’s soccer when the field hosted nearly 1000 hours of events. The field again made news in the fall of 2012 when it was renovated, re-seeded with Kentucky bluegrass, and re-opened 35 days after seeding. Wow!

Certainly all of these amazing feats by 1 field seem like complete outliers because just a few years ago such high use at any level was thought to be impossible for grass. But now these things give as examples of the extremely bright and exciting future for natural grass fields and professional, creative, hard work Sports Field Managers. Using new and better tools for maintenance and by adopting new philosophies around the “3 Keys to High Traffic Maintenance” is changing what was once considered impossible and making it possible!

Walt Disney said it best, and field managers around the world are proving it: “It is Kind of Fun to Do the Impossible” ; ) Well done Sports Field Managers. Well done. #GrassCanTakeMore


Turning Green Into Gold; How Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex Became the First Women’s Soccer Venue to Win Professional Field of the Year

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