The Field of the Year Program was developed to feature the excellent field management practices of STMA members in three categories: Professional stadiums, Schools/Parks, and Colleges/Universities. Since the program began in 1988, STMA has presented nearly 300 Field of the Year awards to top field managers. The program awards single fields in the sports of baseball, softball, soccer, football and sporting grounds (which recognizes non-mainstream sports, such as rugby and lacrosse).
The application covers playability and appearance of the playing surface; innovative solutions employed; effective use of budget; the development and implementation of a comprehensive, sound agronomic program; field management challenges and more. Up to 30 photographs taken throughout the year are also required to be uploaded in the application. The application is completely online, and is hosted through a well-known awards software program, ReviewR. It is easy to fill out and can be saved for continued access as the application is finalized.
The 2020 program revealed that sports field managers faced challenges they never experienced before – many were due to a reduced ability to maintain the surfaces – caused by a limited staff, little to no access, and other restrictions. Factors affecting field management change every year, and those who enter their field two years in a row are challenged to thoroughly describe what has changed from one year to the next.
Daniel Prince won in 2019 and 2020 for Walsh Football Field at the Pace Academy Riverview Sports Complex in the Schools/Parks category. According to Prince, he had different challenges in 2020 with staffing and events. “We had to operate on a skeleton crew that meant only one person on site per day,” said Prince. “During this time, we were tasked with hosting private individual workouts for NFL players, Olympic runners, and a socially distanced graduation ceremony.”
The STMA Awards Committee reviews the application format and criteria annually, and adjusts it as necessary. There was one change to this year’s program: the PCI is again required for submittal. It has been required since 2010, but was placed on hiatus for 2020 due to field access limitations caused by the pandemic. The committee, which is made up of a wide range of members, independently judges each application based on nine criteria. ReviewR automatically calculates the scoring. The judges have an SOP in place to follow to recuse themselves if they know a particular applicant.
Scott Thompson, CSFM, chairs this year’s committee. Members of the committee include Jaxson Bailey, CSFM; Russ Baucom, CSFM; Andrew Beggs, CSFM; Greg Brodd; Grant Davisson; Michael Flowers, CSFM; Ryan Hills; Glenn Lucas; Madison Manos; Carter Metclaf; Trevor Odders, CSFM; Ryan Storey, CSFM; George Trivett, CSFM; Edgar Vallejo; Rob Walls; Christopher Webb, CSFM; and Tim Youngberg.
Those who attain a Field of the Year award receive complimentary STMA Conference registration, three nights hotel, signature clothing, and they accept their award on stage during the annual Awards Banquet held during the STMA Conference and Exhibition. That event will be held Jan. 20, 2022, in Savannah, Ga.
Join your peers who have won a Field of the Year award, and validate your expertise to your community, employer and peers. You can’t win unless you submit!
The Field of the Year application is available at STMA.org under the “Programs” tab. The deadline to submit is Oct. 15.