BUFFALO GROVE, IL—Thefirst Keep America PlayingTM Tour event of the 2008 season hit one out of the park at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. Approximately 100 coaches, field maintenance staff and guests experienced educational field demonstrations and real-world techniques they will use to keep sports fields playable and safe. This first event provided an energizing atmosphere in which attendees were able to see live demonstrations and interact with guest speakers. Educational sessions included information on turf management, irrigation techniques and fertilization practices.
The event, presented by Turface AthleticsTM and John Deere Landscapes, Gainesville, included informational sessions featuring guest speakers Larry DiVito, sports field manager with the Washington Nationals, and Mark Clay, sports field manager with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Partners such as PONY, American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) chapters, and local distributors supported the tour through planning and promotion.
“I would like to take a minute to thank you (the tour organizers) and all involved for a well put together training class,” said Willie Herbert, field supervisor, recreation division for the city of Orlando, Fla. “Not only was it educational, it was fun. My staff and I had not had training of this type in about seven years and we will be implementing a lot of the Keep America Playing ideas in our daily routine. We welcome the opportunity to have been a part of the class, and would love to recommend this course to all in our field.”
Mike Fletcher, sales manager of the John Deere Landscape Branch #436 in Gainesville, Fla. had this to add, “We had an excellent turnout, and everything went well. It was a wonderful show. I would like to thank the University of Florida for use of their facility, and thank you to all of our vendors that came out and participated in the event.”
Following the Gainesville event, the Keep America Playing Tour announced three featured event locations. Future 2008 tour dates include:
Community America Ballpark (home of the Kansas City T-Bones) in Kansas City, Mo. – October 15, 2008
Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2008
Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill. – (date TBD)
These three educational events will complement local scheduled field days and educational activities. 2008 tour events commonly take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and lunch is included for all registered attendees. Appearances by professional sports field managers will also take place during the three scheduled events.
“We had a great turnout with a lot of interaction among the group. Our speakers, the coaches, field maintenance staff, field volunteers and all guests were highly involved during our first Tour stop of 2008 here in Gainesville, Fla.,” said Chris Wilhite, brand manager for Turface Athletics. “The energy coming from this event makes me really look forward to the upcoming events. They will enable us to continue to spread key education and provide an opportunity to expand on a typical field day, to present as broad a range of information on safe and playable sports fields as possible.”