Growing STMA provides education & professionalism

Nearly 1,000 attendees enjoyed classic southern California sunshine during breaks at the Sports Turf Managers Association’s 23rd Annual Conference and Exhibition last month in Long Beach. STMA reported sports turf managers, academics and other practitioners from all over the world were included in this audience. More than 1,600 folks participated in this year’s event, nearly a 10% increase over last year’s conference in Austin, TX.

STMA Headquarters staff, led by CEO Kim Heck, once again ran a smooth show and the Long Beach Convention Center and surrounding area was perfect for after-hours. Congratulations to Kristen Althouse, Patrick Allen, Leah Craig, Nora Dunnaway for a job well done.

First-time exhibitors Chad and Cathy Kropff of Bulldog Field Equipment, Roanoke, VA, were introducing their 4-way pitching rubber. They said traffic had been steady throughout the exhibit hours. “Guys are ready to buy right now,” Chad said.

John Klesk of Graco also was introducing a new product and reported heavy interest from buyers, and this correspondent had to wait until the show was officially closed to get in a word with Lindsay Merkt, whose g2 turftools won STMA’s Innovation Award for products introduced in 2011, because of booth traffic.

Attendees took advantage of nearly 90 hours of sports turf specific education offered over 3 days. The industry’s top professionals joined academics in presentations, and crowds enjoyed peer-to-peer networking events such as the Industry Segment Networking Sessions, Welcome Reception and Awards Banquet Reception at the 4-day event held at the Long Beach Convention Center and three nearby hotels.

CEO Kim Heck said Friday morning’s session, Sportsturf 101 in Spanish, had seven participants and afterward the students, accompanied by translators, toured the trade show floor.

Selected educational sessions were video recorded and synchronized with PowerPoint presentations, the STMA said, in conjunction with Peach New Media. Twelve different presentations will be available, see


Dr. Frank Rossi passionately stated his case that turf managers, whom he called “problem-solvers who care about the environment,” should embrace all three aspects of “sustainable resource management”: social, economic, and environmental. “We can meet the needs of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow,” he said.

“You can use the attraction of sports, the popularity of sports and impact players and fans. Your audience is there,” he added.

It was startling to hear Dr. Rossi say, “In 2008, for the first time in 25 years, people surveyed said they were willing to sacrifice environmental quality for economic reasons.” He was frank when he said, “Making decisions strictly for aesthetics must stop” referring to unnecessary use of resources.

Dr. Rossi urged the audience to know and understand the facts behind the cultural (social) benefits of turfgrass and its place in the ecosystem, as well as the true costs behind carbon emissions. He pointed to the increased populations in metro areas and how sports turf is increasingly being adapted to suit urbanized environments.

Former NFL player Eric Boles delivered an honest, high-energy message that focused on developing and cultivating leadership potential in yourself and those around you. “You only get better when you take chances,” he said. He said you have to be able to ask those around you, “On a scale of 1-10, how am I doin’?” And no matter the answer, reply, “What would make it a 10?”

Boles recounted a story from high school when he and his jock buddies couldn’t understand why this average classmate kept dating the pretty girls. He said he was working on his game, like his friends, wondering why the girls weren’t noticing him. So he asked his classmate, “What are you doing to get dates with all these girls?” And the guy says, “I asked them.”

His point is maybe you have a great idea at work but you won’t share it with anyone because, well because of any number of reasons, fear of rejection or failure being chief among them. What’s the worst that can happen if you push the envelope a bit? Someone can say “no,” Boles said, “and that’s it.” YOU weren’t rejected, just your idea. Leaders keep trying to improve, he said.

New Board of Directors

The new Board of Directors of STMA was installed in Long Beach. President Mike Goatley Jr., an extension agent and educator from Virginia Tech, gave a great acceptance speech, giving special praise to his family, Dr. A.J. Powell of his home state Kentucky, and Jeff Krans in his Mississippi State heyday. Mike’s board for 2012:

Immediate Past President: Troy Smith, CSFM

President-Elect: Martin K. Kaufman, CSFM
Secretary/Treasurer: David Pinsonneault, CSFM, CPRP
Vice-President Commercial: Rene Asprion

Professional Facilities: Allen Johnson, CSFM
Academic: Jeffrey Fowler
Parks & Recreation: Debra Kneeshaw
Higher Education: Jeffrey Salmond, CSFM

K-12: Michael Tarantino, CSFM

Commercial: James Graff

At Large: Jay Warnick, CSFM

At Large: Ron Hostick, CSFM

SAFE Foundation

The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE) used its 12th Annual Golf Tournament, played at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms’ Eisenhower Course, a Casino Night at the Welcome Reception and the live auctions, raffles and other fundraising endeavors to make more than $27,000 for the foundation.

Mike McDonald, CSFM, from the University of Minnesota made a hole-in-one at Industry Hills, canning his tee shot on the par 3, 130-yard 9th hole and winning a vacation for two while he was at it. Rick Peruzzi, CSFM, Mike DiDonato, CSFM, Kevin Meredith, CSFM, and Matt Tobin won the net-scramble format tournament.

The first-ever SAFE Casino Night at the Welcome Reception was a hit with attendees. More than 100 participants played blackjack, roulette and craps, vying for $250 gift cards to Bass Pro Shops, Omaha Steaks and Best Buy. In typical STMA member fashion, attendees stepped up and ensured that the SAFE Auctions and Raffles brought in a record amount. Winners walked away with some great items including autographed memorabilia, apparel, a Toro Turf Guard System valued at $7,800, electronics, hotel packages, golf gear, and sports turf specific equipment. The Toro Giving Program presented the SAFE Foundation with a donation of $9,500 in honor of Dr. James Watson to support the SAFE Scholarship program.

SAFE Chairman Boyd Montgomery, CSFM, CSE of Toro launched a new grassroots campaign to engage the STMA membership, at the individual and corporate levels, over a 5-year period. Cultivating the development potential of the membership is the first step towards helping SAFE advance its mission of education, scholarship and research in the sports turf industry.

The Conference and Exhibition is supported through the sponsorship of the following companies:  Barenbrug USA; Carolina Green Corp.; Covermaster, Inc.; Diamond Pro/TXI; DuPont Professional Products; GreenONE Industries; Hunter Industries; MUSCO Sports Lighting; Rain Bird Corp.; The Toro Company; and World Class Athletic Surfaces, Inc.

Founders Awards

The week’s events were capped off by STMA’s Annual Awards Banquet on Friday evening, where the association’s highest honors are presented. The Founders Awards for 2011: Dr. William H. Daniel Award – [START BOLD]Dr. Leah Brilman[END BOLD], Seed Research of Oregon; George Toma Golden Rake Award – [START BOLD]Tom Nielsen[END BOLD], Louisville Bats; Dick Ericson Award – [START BOLD]Darian Daily[END BOLD], Paul Brown Stadium; Harry C. Gill Memorial Award – [START BOLD]Mike Andresen, CSFM[END BOLD], Iowa State University


SAFE was created to provide research, educational programs, and scholarships geared to sports field specific endeavors. The level of scholarship funding has steadily increased since the scholarship program’s inception in 1999 and since the scholarship program’s beginning, SAFE has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarship and travel to the STMA Conference and Exhibition.

A panel of seven judges independently scored each entry based on each student’s academic preparation, experience in the sports turf management industry, professional goals, extracurricular activities, and input from academic advisors and employers. Each student also wrote an essay describing his or her background and career aspirations.

Scholarship recipients had their financial aid mailed directly to their university, with a check made out jointly to them and their schools financial aid office.

Graduate Scholarships: Dr. James Watson Scholarship – $1,500 Matthew Williams, Ohio State

SAFE Graduate Scholarship – $1,000 Matthew Elmore, Tennessee, & Matthew Hollan, Tennessee

Four Year Scholarships: Dr. James Watson Scholarship – $1,500 Evan Sears, Kentucky

SAFE Undergraduate Scholarship – $1,000 Nicholas Fisher, Ohio State; Travis Hohlbein, Ohio State; Logan Horne, Virginia Tech; Stephen R. King, Penn State; Zachary Peterson, Purdue; Steven Vonderheide, Purdue

Two Year Scholarships: Dr. Fred Grau Memorial Scholarship – $1,500 Chris Romo, Mt. San Antonio College.

Student Challenge

The STMA Student Challenge is presented in partnership with the SAFE Foundation and Founding Partner Hunter Industries. The Challenge consists of several parts; the exam is formatted to include multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, reading passages, and short answer sections. Some questions may require physical or visual identification of plant materials, pests, supplies, tools, equipment, irrigation components, ballfield soils and materials, synthetic turf components, soils, or other sports field related items.

This year’s winners were:

Two-year colleges:

1st place—Kirkwood Community College, Team 204

2nd place—Mt. San Antonio College, Team 209

3rd place—Mt. San Antonio College, Team 211

Four-year colleges:

1st place—Purdue University, Team 402

2nd place—University of Maryland, Team 404

3rd place—Virginia Tech, Team 405

Mt. San Antonio College won the 2-year contest a year ago, and Purdue repeated as 4-year champs from 2011.

Kirkwood CC coach Troy McQuillen said, “All are students are 2nd year in the Golf Course and Athletic Turfgrass Management Program. They raised $6,000 to attend STMA through lawn aerations, sodding projects, and baseball field edging activities. The students started studying for the test back in October meeting every Wednesday night. The students also worked over Christmas Break studying for the exam. This is the first time we place 1st in the competition. We are very proud of the group, it’s a huge accomplishment for the program and the college.” 

The students will be using the $4,000 from winning the competition to fund specific tools and additional lab areas for the Athletic Field Maintenance Course.

Innovation Award

STMA Commercial Vice President Rene Asprion, Diamond Pro/TXI, presented the 2012 STMA Award for Commercial Innovation to g2 turftools during trade show hours Friday. The award was for their 84” Turfplaner, a product judged by the STMA Awards Committee to substantially enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sports Turf Manager, and make playing surfaces safer and more playable for athletes.

G2 turftools received an award on the trade show floor, signage to be placed in their booth, and will have use of the 2012 Innovative Award logo with the winning product ad infinitum. See full story on the product on page 43.

Innovative Sessions

There was a nice early morning crowd for Friday’s Innovative Sessions. Jason Kruse from the University of Florida covered nicely the progress in remote sensing technology’s role in sports turf management, and Dr. “Trey” Rogers from Michigan State followed up with research and insights into growing Kentucky bluegrass in a monostand versus blend. Gerard van’t Klooster from The Netherlands reviewed progress made with use of additional light on sports turf, including its use in Lambeau Stadium