STMA 2015 College Soccer Field of the Year: Klockner Stadium, University of Virginia

Sports Turf Manager: Jesse Pritchard, CSFM
Degree: Bachelor’s of Science in Horticulture with an emphasis in Turfgrass Management

Experience: I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2001. There I worked for both the Intramural and Athletic department field crews. I accepted a job with Sports Turf Management out of Atlanta, GA in February 2002. There I was responsible for maintaining 4,000,000 square feet of contracted field maintenance. I accepted the head Sports Turf Manager position with the University of Virginia in July 2005. I have been serving in that role for the last 10 years trying to improve our athletic fields every day.

Full-time Assistant Sports Turf Manager: Phil Bathalon

Original construction: 1992

Rootzone: 100% sand

Turfgrass variety: Patriot bermudagrass

Overseed: Overseeded with Field General Blend perennial ryegrass, ‘Karma’, ‘Express ll’ and ‘Fiesta 4’ in late September. To seed we broom dragged, mowed and blew the field followed by seeding @10lbs/1000. We then broom dragged the seed to create the best seed to soil contact possible.

Drainage: Originally the field was built with a MOTZ PAT system with vacuums. Over time the drain lines filled with sand and the drainage slowed dramatically. In 2006 4-inch double wall NDS drainpipe was installed on 15-foot centers running the length of the field. These pipes empty into a 6-inch mainline on both ends of the field.

Why STMA should consider your field a winner?

Klockner Stadium is home to the University of Virginia’s (UVa) soccer and lacrosse teams competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Champions. During the 2014-2015 seasons UVa hosted 35 regular season games, the ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championships and eight NCAA post-season games. The sports turf crew totals four full time employees and one seasonal employee which are also responsible for maintaining the track, softball, football and baseball stadium fields as well as two natural grass practice fields, four artificial fields and the surrounds of the athletic facilities. With the sustained success of UVa teams comes national exposure. In 2014-2015 Klockner hosted eight televised games. This publicity increases the pressure to overcome challenges and showcase Klockner as one of the finest fields in the country.

Klockner is one of three natural grass fields in the NCAA that hosts D1 men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse. Four different teams using one field bring many challenges. Wear is the main problem as we are unable to shift the three different fields. The soccer goalmouths, lacrosse goalie creases and midfield, all align in the center of the field creating significant wear and compaction problems. In the fall during soccer season, special attention is given to the soccer goalmouths and sidelines. In the spring we focus on the lacrosse creases, the attack area and the team bench areas. During both seasons, aerification was paramount to our recovery in these heavily compacted wear areas.

Additionally, weather and scheduling are important factors to overcome in successful field maintenance. Finding open windows, based on events, can be frustrating when there is little time for maintenance. Overseeding in the fall is critical for late season coverage and contributes to our spring season green up. Having a busy fall calendar of events, we were only able to provide compaction relief by solid tining one time (compare this to the spring season which we solid tined twice and core aerified twice). Weather played a large part in the beginning of lacrosse season. During our opening game Feb 14, we had a snowstorm and had to blow the lines throughout the game in order to finish. We then received consecutive 8” snows that necessitated postponing two lacrosse games.

After the lacrosse season we executed an aggressive maintenance strategy focusing on the goalmouths, goalie creases and team areas by laying 6,829 square feet of sod. To help enhance root zone productivity we deep cored twice, core aerified three times, verticut twice and also top dressed USGA sand on two occasions.

We feel we began the 2015 soccer season as the best collegiate soccer field in the country with our aggressive summer maintenance strategy to recover from deep 2014-2015 post season runs and a weather impacted spring. Thus, we feel Klockner Stadium is deserving of the STMA Collegiate Soccer Field of the Year.

SportsTurf: What attracted you to a career in sports turf management?

Pritchard: Three significant reasons: I grew up seeing the satisfaction my father received creating wood furniture. I grew up on a baseball diamond and would stripe my own yard and the entire neighborhood as a 10-year old. And I had the opportunity to work for Bobby Campbell as a student at the University of Tennessee. Like my father creating a fine piece of furniture, I knew the first Saturday I watched 110,000 people in Neyland Stadium look down upon something I helped create, I could never doing anything else and be satisfied at work.

SportsTurf: What are your biggest challenges in providing excellent playing surfaces? And how do you approach those challenges?

Pritchard: Phil Bathalon and I do the best we can with what we have to get the job done. We have a small staff and our equipment could have antique plates on them! With a small staff we need to work very efficiently to meet our expectations. When equipment goes down or breaks, this can be extremely challenging. Our approach when those challenges arise is to be prepared for them. We grind our own reels in house to save time, for example. We keep spare pumps/cables for our paint machines and repair them in house during the winter. We can’t fix everything on the spot, but we try to anticipate what might slow us down.

SportsTurf: What changes if any did you implement this year for the winning field?

Pritchard: Phil Bathalon is one hell of a sports turf manager. He is tireless making Klockner Stadium the absolute best NCAA soccer and lacrosse field in the country. There are no tricks or short cuts to having a great field. Hard work with sound agronomic principles is the only thing that will elevate a field. Recently we installed a Weathermatic SmartLink controller. This controller allows us much more flexibility as it is controlled through a laptop or smartphone. Our soccer coaches recently asked us to start watering the field pregame and just before the second half. This controller allowed me to let our game manager download the app and run the quick cycle on her own, without someone from my staff needing to be at every game.

SportsTurf: What’s the greatest pleasure you derive from your job? What’s the biggest headache?

Pritchard: Walking into our football stadium on a crisp Saturday morning as the sun is coming up and seeing the final product from the hard work of the crew.

I choose to be positive. We have our headaches, but they are no larger than any other crew.

SportsTurf: What’s the best piece of turf management advice you have ever received?

Pritchard: “We are in the business of fun,” Bobby Campbell told me.  “We help kids, students and adults play games. Stay positive and have FUN,” he said.

SportsTurf: Are you yet involved in “sustainable” management practices? If so, what are you doing?

Pritchard: In the state of Virginia, all state-owned properties must have a state certified Nutrient Management Plan. This plan limits when we can apply fertilizer and the amounts and types of nitrogen and phosphorous we can apply. We have come to use more organic based fertilizers and much smaller, more frequent applications of synthetic-based fertilizers so we keep what we apply out of the Chesapeake Bay.

SportsTurf: How are using social media at work?

Pritchard: Twitter and Facebook are real time education. I absolutely love the giving/sharing/teaching nature of my colleagues within the industry. I have picked up numerous little tricks from around the country. A student just coming into this industry is going to be so far ahead of where I was when I graduated college, because of the education they receive through social media.

SportsTurf: How do you see the sports turf manager’s job changing in the future?

Pritchard: I see water and fertilizer restrictions being implemented by the state and localities with ZERO knowledge of what they are doing and how it affects end users. I believe individually, we as sports turf managers will need to become more professional and political to be considered the asset we truly are to our companies and communities. We will need to insert ourselves within these political discussions before decisions are made based on fear, not science.

I also believe the push for every high schooler to attend college is going to elevate the pay for those that have a technical skill such as a sports turf manager. Combine that technical skill with a professional, political approach, and I anticipate the demand and pay for Sports Turf Managers to continue to rise.



With the field completely dormant and being between seasons, we focused on surrounding grounds, equipment maintenance, and taking soil samples.


With the field still in dormancy and the first men’s lacrosse game on February 14 preparation for the season begins in earnest. To initiate compaction relief, the field was solid tined a week prior to the first game. We received the first snowfall of the winter during the first game of the season causing the field to be in whiteout conditions. To continue play, the field lines were cleared throughout the game. Following this snowfall we had one more snowstorm causing the field to be unplayable until March.

  • Solid tined 8mm tines at four inch spacing
  • Mowed four times at 0.75 inches
  • Blew debris off the field
  • Removed grow cover from soccer goal mouths
  • Layout and painted lacrosse field (including logo)
  • Hand topdressed sand in goalie creases
  • One pallet of dolomitic lime (trying to melt snow applying half of the recommended lime from soil sample)
  • Sprayed Floratine Per”4”Max @3oz/1000, Maxiplex @3oz/1000, Envy@32oz/120 gal


Due to snow cover, two games were moved to the field hockey field (which is able to be plowed). On March 9, the field was clear of snow and the focus was to prepare the field for back-to-back games: men’s lacrosse on the 10th, women’s lacrosse on the 11th, and a men’s/women’s doubleheader on the 14th (the men’s game being nationally televised).

  • Painted men’s lacrosse field (March 9)
  • Solid tined 8mm tines at four inch spacing (March 10)
  • Blew desiccation and debris (March 9/10)
  • Measured out and painted women’s field (March 11)
  • Re-painted both fields (March 12)
  • Mowed at a maximum of three times per week at 0.75 inch
  • Aerified with 5/8 inch hollow core tines at four inch spacing and picked up 
  • Maintained goalie creases and areas around the women’s lacrosse 8 meter 
  • Hand topdressed sand in goalie creases and filled divots
  • Blew the field following all games to remove desiccated grass and debris
  • Air Spike once a week
  • Turned on irrigation
  • Irrigated to ET
  • 21-0-0 @. 5lbN/1000
  • Sprayed Floratine Per”4”Max @3oz/1000, Protosyn @3oz/1000, Maxiplex 
@3oz/1000, Foursome @16oz/120 gal

During April UVa hosted their final six home games. UVa then hosted the first ever expanded ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship played on
natural grass. Beginning on Wednesday the field hosted seven, one-hour practices. On Thursday and Friday six games were played on the field. In between games we repainted the midfield face off and the top of the 8-meter fan. We also made sure the men’s lacrosse crease was safe and level. 
Preparation for Sunday’s nationally televised championship game began following the final game on Friday by mowing and blowing the field. Early Saturday morning we repainted the field allowing time to dry before two additional practices at 10 and 11am with rain forecasted throughout the day. Following the tournament we were able to core aerify during the two week period prior to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Regionals.

  • Mowed at a minimum of four times per week at 0.75 inch
  • Blew the field following all games to remove desiccated grass and debris
  • Painted field according to schedule
  • Hand topdressed sand and filled divots
  • Maintained goalie creases and areas around the women’s lacrosse fan
  • Air Spike once a week
  • Aerified 3⁄4 inch hollow tines at four inch spacing, drag in cores
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Earthworks 5-4-5 @. 5 lbN/1000
  • Sprayed Harrell’s Nitrate Plus @6oz/1000
  • 21-0-0@. 5lbN/1000
  • MAY

With the regular season and conference championships finished for the year, UVa was selected to host both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Lacrosse 
Regionals. The women had four, one-hour practices on Thursday followed by two elimination games on Friday. On Saturday there were four practices followed by the nationally televised doubleheader games on Sunday the 10th – which were the final games of the season. Overall, at this point, the field was relatively bare in the goalie crease areas and team areas. Fortunately, because we aerified at the end of April, the field was able to recover from the Women’s ACC Lacrosse Tournament in time to host the NCAA Regionals. Following the NCAA Regionals, the field would not have any play until August 15th. With roughly three months to grow in, our goal was to implement an aggressive maintenance strategy to provide much needed compaction relief and initiate root growth. The decision was made to sod the areas extending from the soccer goalie areas to the top of the men’s lacrosse creases. By sodding, we were able to level off the goalie creases and allow us to focus on other pressing issues throughout the summer. A significant issue was the aging irrigation heads that had to be raised and replaced with new Hunter I40 opposing nozzle heads to create a more efficient system.

  • Chemically prayed out ryegrass
  • Deep cored 10” with 1” hollow tines on 6” spacing (picked up cores)
  • Mowed at a maximum four times per week at 5⁄8 inch
  • Topdressed 45 tons USGA sand (broomed in two directions)
  • Sodded 6,829 square feet Patriot bermudagrass
  • Rolled sod
  • Irrigation head replacement
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Revolver @. 4oz/1000, Harrell’s Nitrate Plus @6oz/1000
  • 21-0-0@1lbN/1000
  • JUNE

After the initial application of Revolver to remove ryegrass, we noticed areas that were missed and sprayed a second application. Once we were confident with the maturity of the bermudagrass rhizomes and stolons, we were able to verticut the last week in June. This was done to accelerate the growth and spread rate of the bermudagrass. We were also able to verticut a second time at the end of the month. One issue that needed more attention at this time was the sideline (some of which was sodded). Aerification cores were used in an effort to grow in the bare sidelines.

  • Aerified 3⁄4 inch hollow tines at three inch spacing, drag and blew cores
  • Verticut two times
  • Deep cored 10” with 1” hollow tines on 6” spacing (picked up cores)
  • Mowed minimum three times a week at 5⁄8 inch
  • Added cores on sidelines
  • Irrigation head replacement
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Floratine Hi-Five @3oz/1000, Per”4”Max @3oz/1000 bimonthly
  • 20-0-20 @1lbN/1000
  • JULY

With a little less than two months remaining before the first match, the majority of the field had grown in. Larger weak areas, such as the four 
corners of the field, random spring dead spots and the sideline (cores did not work) were plugged for immediate coverage.

  • Topdressed 45 tons (broomed three directions)
  • Mowed minimum three times a week at 5⁄8 inch
  • Dolomitic lime (the rest of recommended rate)
  • Plugged
  • Spot sprayed crabgrass
  • Aerified 3⁄4 inch hollow tines at three inch spacing, pick up cores
  • Finished irrigation head replacement
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Floratine Per”4”Max @3oz/1000, Harrell’s N30 @6oz/1000, Primo 
  • Earthworks 5-4-5 @. 5lbN/1000
  • 21-0-0@. 5lbN/1000

August 17th was the first match of the new year with eight matches scheduled through the end of the month. During this final stretch finishing 
touches were completed such as continuing to plug the four corners of the field and giving a final edge to the border (the area between the fence and the field). We also aerified one last time, topdressed and rolled with a 2-ton roller.

  • Edged border
  • Aerified 5⁄8 inch hollow tines at four inch spacings, picked up cores
  • Broom dragged field
  • Topdressed 45 tons USGA sand
  • Rolled
  • Mowed at maximum four times a week 5⁄8 inch
  • Soccer field layout and painted according to schedule
  • Blew the field following all games to remove desiccated grass and debris
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Harrell’s Potassium+Calcium @3oz/1000, EarthMax @3oz/1000, 
Nitrate Plus @3oz/1000, Fe/Mn/Mg @6oz/1000
  • 20-0-20 @1lbN/1000



Nine matches were scheduled for the month of September. At this point, the field has held up as expected, goalmouths and sidelines are showing wear match-to-match. As the schedule permitted, we overseeded (into the first week of October) and replaced the goalmouths with thick cut sod to allow play on a championship field through the end of the season.

  • Mowed at maximum four times a week 5⁄8 inch
  • Painted field according to schedule
  • Air Spike once a week
  • Hand topdressed sand (sidelines, goalmouths) and filled divots
  • Blew the field following all games to clear the field of desiccated grass and debris
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Harrells Potassium+Calcium @3oz/1000, EarthMax @3oz/1000, 
Nitrate Plus @3oz/1000, Fe/Mn/Mg @6oz/1000
  • 20-0-20 @. 5lbN/1000
  • Sprayed Turf Fuel Element 6 @3.2oz/1000, Photo Fuel @3.2oz/1000, Quick 
Green @4.8oz/1000

With 17 matches played by the first of the month and five matches scheduled for October, rye grass is growing and noticeable wear has started to be apparent in the goal mouths and sidelines.

  • Solid tined with 8mm tines at three inch spacing
  • Hand topdressed sand (sidelines and goalmouths) and filled divots
  • Mowed at a minimum of three times per week at 0.75 inch
  • Blew the field following all games to remove desiccated grass and debris
  • Overseeded 1000 lbs. of Field General blend perennial ryegrass (we broom 
dragged one time prior to seeding and one time after to incorporate seed to soil contact)
  • Painted the field according to the match schedule
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Floratine Per”4”Max @3oz/1000, Envy @40oz/120gal
  • Sprayed Par @32oz/120gal
  • 14-20-14 @1lbP/1000

With 22 matches played and one regular season match on the first of the month, we hosted one ACC play in match and four NCAA regional matches.
With the cooler temperatures and shorter days the grass is acclimating towards dormancy. Wear areas are a continuous problem as the inability to help relieve compaction becomes more apparent and prior spot seeding and use of green sand become ineffective.

  • Mowed at a maximum of three times per week at 0.75 inch
  • Hand topdressed sand (sidelines, goalmouths) and filled divots
  • Blew the field following all games to remove desiccated grass and debris
  • Painted field according to schedule
  • Irrigated to ET
  • Sprayed Floratine Per”4”Max @2oz/1000, Foursome @32oz/120gal


All matches are done, however, prior to attending the NCAA Soccer Championships, both teams used the field for practice through the first two weeks of the month. Our goal was to ensure the field was safe and playable for practices. With 1.46 inches of rainfall during these two weeks, total field compaction became apparent with standing water.

  • Blew out irrigation lines
  • Seed and hand topdressed green sand in goalmouths prior to putting on 
grow mats for the winter
  • 18-5-10 >12.60%Slowly available N from MU @1lbN/1000