The Sports Turf Managers Association held its 20th annual Conference in San José January 13-17, and attendees and commercial partners praised the event and the educational program. Member Mark Holder, Roswell, GA, said, “This was only my second conference and being new in the turf side of things, the education and networking are beyond compare. I have been to numerous other conferences and none of them touch STMA.”
There were more than 90 hours of education presented, which focused on technical information and introduced new techniques and practices to sports facility managers. Although conference registration numbers were tracking slightly less than the 2008 conference, total attendance was more than 1,400, and exhibitors felt it was time well spent. Doug Schattinger, president of Pioneer Athletics said, “We felt we had a very good show and presence in San Jose. The amount and caliber (foot traffic) was more than sufficient for our expectations.”
The conference presented three off-site seminars. Participants toured notable sports venues such as Candlestick Park, AT&T Park, and Giants Municipal Stadium, and collegiate sports facilities at Stanford, Santa Clara and San José State universities. In addition, attendees stopped at the San Francisco 49ers’ training facility and a large youth soccer park. During the third off-site seminar, sports turf managers from the NFL, MLB and MLS conducted hands-on training and demonstration.
Leadership guru Steve Farber addressed the opening general session with a message that everyone can lead for success at their facility, regardless of position, title or level. A second keynote was presented by Dr. Ali Harivandi, University of California Cooperative Extension, who offered water management strategies for the sports turf industry.
STMA offered three technical institutes directed to basic, advanced and highly advanced audiences. STMA’s Foundation, SAFE, conducted a golf tournament in advance of the conference, and STMA debuted a Career Center that offered short workshops, a job board, and résumé writing and interviewing tips. New this year was a focus on health, and a skin cancer screening booth was introduced. There was also an educational session presented on the trade show floor that demonstrated sports field painting techniques. Sports turf managers painted the STMA logo on natural grass and synthetic turf, which were laid out side-by-side in the exhibit hall.
At the annual lunch and meeting, STMA presented its 2009 Board of Directors to the membership, and presented awards to its scholarship, Field of the Year, and Founders Awards winners at the closing Annual Awards banquet.
The conference and golf tournament sponsors include Barenbrug USA, Beacon Athletics, Covermaster, Cygnet Turf Equipment, Diamond Pro/TXI, Ewing Irrigation, Field of Greens, Hunter Industries, Jacobsen, Kubota Tractor, Landscapes Unlimited, Midwest Rake, Newsom Seed, OC Jones & Sons, Profile Products, LLC/Turface, Pro’s Choice/Oil-Dri, Rain Bird, The Toro Company, West Coast Turf, and World Class Athletic Surfaces.