Special thanks as well to Mr. Charles Boehm from Potomac Soccer Wire for the kind words and respect in his article yesterday entitled “Minnick Magic”. Mr Boehm is an exceptional writer- and I appreciate his ongoing curiosity in sports field management. I have offered him the opportunity to come and try his hand in some mowing- I am excited for him to take me up on it! You can see his article at:
No, it is not a misprint that the DC United v Philadelphia Union last night was match number 30 since a May 12th DC United Women fixture. A stretch of 29 matches took place in 17 days: DC United Women, Maryland State Youth Soccer Association Championships, Potomac Soccer Association tournament, Nike “The Chance”, and 2 other US Open Cup Matches. Those, on top of managing 21 other pitches under heavy traffic, have led to fatigue around the facility- from fields and staff. Special kudos go to Grounds Manager Ryan Bjorn for leading a full speed assault during the chaos. New assistant manager Dusty LeVan was thrown into the fire as well in early May. They are more than excited to have the addition of assistant manager Julie Adamski this week. Reinforcements finally! haha
Amazingly enough, the field isn’t screaming for reinforcements. At least not loud enough for us to be listening to it!! The center of the field is a little bit thin, but still is thick enough to be described as a “full stand”. The areas in front of the benches out towards mid-field are showing the most stress from the repeated warm up of the 60 different teams. Rotating benches from one side of the pitch to the other helped, but the (60 teams x 18 players =) 1080 players warming up directly in front of their bench during the time caused some slight thinning. In all reality though, over all the pitch is in great shape.
The lessons we learned and the information we have gathered through the heavy traffic period will help us better prepare for next time- just as similar periods in the past prepared us for this time. Examples of the lessons used are: The field lines were shifted 6 times to move goal mouths and referee lines, 3 forms of aeration to total 5 aerations anchored survival, topdressing took place 2x, and nitrogen fertilizer was avoided in combination with the use of Primo for growth regulation and bio-stimulants to strengthen cell walls and provide energy to survive a week over 90 degrees.
Aeration was certainly the core piece of the puzzle though. The more we aerate, the more the field is able to sustain. With that thought, ironically today I was graced with a conversation Mr. Brian Wood from Commercial Turf and Tractor back in my hometown of Chillicothe, MO. Mr. Wood was instrumental in bringing deep tine aeration from the European market to the USA 25 years ago (congrats to him on the anniversary). It is mind blowing to think that deep tine aeration was unknown here before 1988 when now it is one of the single most important pieces to our maintenance program for managing high traffic athletic fields and having them survive. This heavy traffic period reinforces that more than ever!!
Brian has been spreading the word of the value of aeration for those 25 years… Thank you for the Brian. As far as we have come in field quality in the last 25 years, the sky is the limit for the next 25!!!