Justin Scurry, groundskeeper for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, recently won the 2021 STMA Mowing Pattern Contest with his submission titled “Under the Carolina Sky.” Scurry was selected via a voting contest for his intricate design at Founders Park, home to the Gamecocks. His design received 522 votes, and will have a custom poster featured at the 2022 STMA Conference and Exhibition (January 17-20) in Savannah, Ga.
SportsField Management magazine caught up with Scurry to ask him about the winning design.
SportsField Management (SFM): Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your crew.
Scurry: I began working at Wilson & Associates Sports Turf Association in 2005. Two years later, I was involved in an accident that resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. As an orthopedic and burn patient, I underwent several months of rehabilitation but was able to continue working in this field and continued coaching baseball. I was grateful to continue doing what I love doing, and in 2018, I landed my dream job as the grounds supervisor over baseball and football at the University of South Carolina.
I’m extremely grateful to work with a talented and knowledgeable crew, including Tim Flanagan, a seasoned veteran who has been at the University of South Carolina since 2016. Tim started as a class A superintendent over golf facilities and is now the assistant AD for sports turf operations. Donnie Lindler, a mentor to me, has been with the University of South Carolina for 20 years, and has maintained the baseball facility for 15 years. Owen Efird, Efren Romero, and Blake Keck, three younger members of the crew have also been instrumental in my career at UofSC.
This career requires a lot of time away from home and family, and you end up spending more time with your crew as a result. My coworkers have become a second family, and I’m blessed to have this group of talented and educated groundskeepers in my corner.
SFM: Please detail for us the winning design and your inspiration for the design.
Scurry: The inspiration for our design, “Under a Carolina Sky,” came from our South Carolina state flag, which features the symbolic Palmetto tree and white crescent. The design name came from my wife, Jenna. Because Founders Park is in our state capital, we wanted the history of South Carolina to be front and center. It was important to show the strength of our state and South Carolinians with the design #WeAreSCStrong.
When the 2021 baseball schedule was released, we knew we had to get to work, because a design this intricate couldn’t be done overnight. All the stars aligned and the weekend we chose to begin was our first SEC series at Founders Park.
SFM: There is obviously a lot of foresight, planning, dedication and hard work in what you do. What is your overall approach with regard to mowing patterns and on-field artistry, and/or what is your advice to other sports field managers when it comes to mowing patterns?
Scurry: All groundskeepers are artists, our canvas is an athletic field, and our work is viewed by people across the country. Overall planning begins at the start of the season, where we begin with an easier design. As we move through the season, our designs become more complex. My advice is to have fun with your ideas and designs, think outside of the box, and make sure you have a fun crew because it never falls on just one person when it comes to the final design.
SFM: What does winning the STMA Mowing Pattern Contest mean to you and your crew?
Scurry: We had big plans for this design in 2020, but our season was cut short due to COVID-19. To come back a year later with the same crew, make that design a reality, and to win is a dream come true.
When I started in 2005, I set several goals for myself, including working at the collegiate level and winning STMA awards. I’m checking things off my list, and the award is just one of many that will one day allow us to win Field of The Year at the University of South Carolina.