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UMass Amherst researching tennis turf

June 23, 2017

Some of the most accomplished amateur lawn tennis players in the country have tested the footing for a groundstroke or an overhand smash at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Joseph Troll Turf Research and Education Center in South Deerfield to help researchers there evaluate how different turfgrass surfaces affect play and stand up under real-life, match-play punishment.

The research is funded with a $60,000 grant from the New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation. For the work, J. Scott Ebdon, professor of agronomy and turfgrass science at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, with colleagues including associate professor Michelle DaCosta, established three official-size single courts at the research center to evaluate turfgrass tolerance under actual tennis play.

At the recent event on June 10, six experienced players from the Longwood Cricket Club (LCC) in Chestnut Hill came to play at the turf research center in South Deerfield to, in Ebdon’s words, “impose a useful level of traffic injury on grass courts to allow for evaluation of wear.” Using results of preliminary research, he and DaCosta, with Ph.D. student Alan Michael Turner, narrowed the number of grass cultivars and species in this test to eight. They use a combination of expert visual inspection and a light-reflecting machine and software to evaluate turf damage.

There are about 20 lawn tennis facilities in the United States, located mostly in the Northeast from New Jersey to New England, where 10,000 to 20,000 amateur and professional players seek out grass courts for friendly matches to tournaments, says Michael Buras, LCC grounds director and a 1997 graduate of the UMass Amherst turf program. He says that of Longwood’s 1,200 members, probably 1,000 regularly play on grass. He adds, “Of course, one of the world’s most prestigious Grand Slam tournaments, the Wimbledon Championship, is also played on grass.”

Buras says the grass court pro tennis tour starts in mid-June in Germany and is followed by three tournaments in the U.K., this year from June 10 to July 1. Wimbledon begins on July 3 and closes on July 15, after which many up-and-coming young players will travel to Newport, R.I., for the Hall of Fame Open from July 16-23. Buras says the LCC, sometimes host of the U.S. Tennis Association amateur grass court championships won by Arthur Ashe at LCC in 1968, will hold its annual exhibition tournament in August, which draws many Hall of Fame players.

Ebdon says UMass Amherst is the only institution in the nation conducting research on natural grass for lawn tennis. “This research will directly benefit the turf manager responsible for maintaining any grass court and indirectly will benefit the player and society by improving the tolerance of the grass to traffic in match play,” he adds. The research is expected to offer valuable new information to managers of other turf areas such as golf, grass sports such as football and soccer, and residential lawns.

DaCosta points out that research to identify the best turf for playing fields not only benefits turf managers at ball parks, soccer fields and golf courses but it also increases player safety by minimizing slippery and bare spots that can lead to injury. It took a full week of measurements and other evaluation after the recent tennis matches to assess turf wear. She adds, “Grasses are important to our culture, and not just for athletics. A lot of what we study here is applicable to other crops including to cereals and grains.”

In addition to UMass Amherst researchers and graduate students who collected turf wear data, Buras and Larry Wolf, Longwood’s director of tennis, collected player feedback. Buras says, “All of us, and I’m not just speaking for LCC, see constant play through the season and for all the tournaments. We all always are looking for ways to keep the grass courts in good shape over those weeks and months of use.”

Buras adds that of special interest to him from Ebdon and DaCosta’s studies will be their evaluation of different grass types for not only wear but factors such as surface firmness and ball bounce. “UMass Amherst is a top research leader in the country looking at grass courts,” he notes. “It is one of the few places that conducts wear trials on different species and compares newer to older cultivars. In the weeks leading up to Wimbledon at the end of June, where the play is on grass, it’s exciting to be taking part in this turf research at UMass.”

As Ebdon points out, grass courts are more difficult to manage and, like golf greens, require a high level of training to maintain. In fact many grass courts are associated with golf courses, he notes. “This project is notable as the first and only funded research project to investigate turfgrasses that are optimal for tennis.”

Founded in 1877, Longwood Cricket Club has played a pioneering role in the evolution of tennis. Originally a cricket club, its members took up lawn tennis, began organizing regional tournaments and moved to its current Chestnut Hill location in 1922. Today the club has members playing all levels of tennis and participating in a wide range of social activities. Its transition from cricket to tennis began in 1878 when the club added its first lawn tennis court.

The New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation’s research trust funds turfgrass research and produces and distributes a research newsletter to share current information on turfgrass research done in New England. The trust works with universities and industry members by sharing research information.

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Irvine releases maintenance guide for organic athletic fields

June 23, 2017

The city of Irvine, CA has released a 91-page guide for organic maintenance of athletic fields in response to interest in replicating the program elsewhere.

The detailed report covers everything from turf management to soil analysis, as well as time spent maintaining baseball and softball infields. It also contains the organics first policy that the City Council adopted in 2016 and product information for alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

In the months since, cities across the region and beyond have contacted Irvine to ask about costs and methods for maintaining fields through manual and mechanical labor.

Additionally, the nonprofit Non Toxic Irvine plans to share the online guide in an effort to eliminate use of chemicals such as Roundup on fields across the U.S.

“We’re going to set up meetings with Little League and Pony nationally to meet with their staff and get it out there,” said Kim Konte, a founder of the group. “I’m so happy it’s finally live. People just want the information. This way it’s coming from a city that’s already implemented it for over a year now.”

The report can be viewed at:

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July is Smart Irrigation Month

June 23, 2017

Join STMA in recognizing Smart Irrigation Month. Taking place in July, this industry campaign’s goal is to increase awareness of the value of water use and grow demand for water-saving products, practices and services.

Join other irrigation companies and professionals to:

  • Educate customers about efficient water-use.
  • Grow demand for water-saving technologies, products and services.
  • Provide real solutions to today’s water challenges.
  • Position your company as a leader in smart water-efficient practices.

Click here to learn more about the initiative and how you can support the cause.


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Christine Brennan examines impact of Title IX 45 years later

June 23, 2017

On the 45th anniversary of Title IX, I want to take you to the 90th anniversary of Title IX.

It’s 2062. Women have been president of the United States for so long that men are starting to wonder when they’ll get the chance again. It has been 22 consecutive years, we think, although it’s easy to lose count.

There are 60 women in the U.S. Senate and 250 in the House of Representatives. There are so many female doctors and lawyers in America that it is becoming rarer every day to hire a male lawyer or go to a male doctor. In fact, some make the point that they “go to a male doctor,” a twist on the “woman doctor” adage from their grandparents’ day.

Women have taken over quite a few boardrooms. Hundreds are in charge of universities and major corporations. A record number own or run sports teams, in the pros and in college.

What does this have to do with the girl next door playing weekend soccer, or your daughter playing on her high school volleyball team, or your niece playing AAU basketball?


“The benefits will be in what happens after the playing days are over, namely more women in leadership positions in our society,” Big East commissioner and former WNBA president Val Ackerman wrote in an email. “Whether doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEOs, senators, university presidents, tech titans — the pathways for women will keep easing because sports can pave the way.”

For much of the 20th century, this nation made a huge mistake. It denied half of its population the opportunity to learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, physical fitness, confidence and winning and losing at a young age. Boys were allowed to play sports. Girls mostly were not. This happened for generations.

Then, on June 23, 1972 — six days after the Watergate break-in, ironically enough — President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibited high schools and colleges that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender in any program or activity, including sports.

It took a decade or two for Title IX to get going, but the floodgates were ready to open, and they did. What happened is what you see in your neighborhood, multiplied by thousands of neighborhoods: Millions of girls and women playing sports, filling the athletic fields you drive by every day, so omnipresent that they barely attract your attention anymore. Had you driven by those fields 45 years ago, the only girls you would have seen are those who had run over to tell their brothers it was time to come home for dinner.

To put it mildly, the law has become wildly successful. America has fallen in love with what it created. The 1999 Women’s World Cup soccer tournament was one of our first big hints. (The only event ever to make the covers of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated the same week.) The record success of U.S. women at the Olympic Games, leading the way in the medal count, is another. College scholarships? Are you kidding? Name a father (or a mother) who isn’t as into their daughter’s games as they are their son’s.

And those remaining naysayers? The three men hiding under a desk somewhere in Montana who despise Title IX? Come out now, guys. It’s over.

“The passage of Title IX 45years ago changed the trajectory of American women, thus transforming our culture,” Donna de Varona, Olympic gold medalist and Title IX advocate, said in an email. “We found our way into space, onto the Supreme Court and into the high echelons of politics. In the sporting arena, we became visible affirmations of what is possible, offering up strong, confident role models for future generations.”

Title IX is still relatively young, but its impact has been far more dramatic than most of us realize. An Ernst & Young and espnW survey found that among businesswomen now in the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs, etc.), a stunning 94% played sports, and 52% played college sports.

Every year, this nation pumps millions of young female athletes into our culture, into the workplace, into the world. They are now in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They’re not going away, and they’re not going to stop playing sports recreationally, which is why the U.S. Golf Association now features women and girls in practically every one of its TV commercials, while cities big and small are adding half-marathons and triathlons by the dozens every year.

If a sports governing body or a state or local organization is not racking its collective brain trying to figure out how to attract these women into their sport, it is missing a massive, long-term financial opportunity.

Perhaps most important, these young women are not going to forget what they learned through sports.

Tennis legend and women’s sports icon Billie Jean King thinks they will have a profound effect on the future of this country. “The young women graduating college in the next few years may be the first generation of women to receive equal pay for equal work in their professional lifetime and Title IX is helping secure their future,” she wrote in an email.

There still are concerns, certainly. While Title IX permeates every suburban girl’s life, girls and young women in less-privileged areas of urban and rural America have been missed. Men, not women, still get hired for many of the plum women’s college coaching jobs. And noted Title IX attorney and Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar worries that, “without some heavy backpedaling soon, the Trump administration could cripple the Department of Education for generations to come.”

But, all in all, this is a very happy anniversary for Title IX. To celebrate, why not go to a girls’ or women’s sporting event? That 10-year-old girl out there on the soccer field? You’re going to vote for her someday.- by Christine Brennan, USA TODAY


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Routine maintenance on synthetic turf

June 22, 2017

Soccer season is still a few months away, but there has been some activity on the field at the Dr. Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex.

Mark White: “What we are trying to do today is get some professional eyes on our fields. People who are installers and who are in the industry to look and see how we are doing after 11 years.”

Presque Isle (ME) has the only turf field north of Orono. The field is now 11 years old and normally a turf field has to be replaced after 10 to 15 years. White is hopeful that maintaining the field and doing routine maintenance will extend the life before it needs to be replaced. Houghton who is the Regional Director for field care for Field Turf says the maintenance includes several steps

Luke Houghton: “We are coming in and decompacting the infield which is your sand and rubber base. We are decompacting that and brushing, leveling and adding sand and rubber to high traffic areas. Penalty kick areas, face off areas, corner kick areas. When I say add materials we add sand and rubber to protect the fiber.”

Houghton and his crew also looked at the safety aspect of the field

Houghton: “We also offer G Max readings, if you don’t take care of the field you don’t decompact it and you have very high G Max readings that goes back to concussions and head injuries. Your G Max readings with the decompacting makes it more like a brand new field. Safety playability, longevity is what we are here for.”

Houghton and White agree that the goal of the maintenance is to extend the life of the field.

Houghton: “You are adding two three or years on the other end. Instead of replacing the field you are prolonging the life of the field.”

White: “The plan right now is to get on a maintenance program that is going to help us maintain what we have and protect our investment.

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Resolution could put moratorium on synthetic fields

June 22, 2017

The Westfield (MA) City Council’s natural resources committee has drafted a resolution that could ban crumb rubber use on city property in Westfield.

The resolution, drafted by Ward One Councilor and committee member Mary Ann Babinski, would allow the City Council to vote to adopt a three-year moratorium “on the construction or installation of certain synthetic turf” with infill, such as crumb rubber, on any city-owned property.

“This resolution will prohibit any use of crumb rubber on any city property,” Ward Four Councilor and committee member Mary O’Connell, said. “Any parks, any school playgrounds, anything like that.”

The resolution comes as members said that residents have become increasingly vocal of potential health effects crumb rubber use may carry. However, recently the Board of Health opted to not ban the material, claiming that there weren’t studies showing whether or not a health risk exists with the material. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) though, are currently still conducting studies on the material and its potential effects.

And in the resolution as it is currently drafted, it acknowledges the lack of conclusive evidence but reads that “in an abundance of caution” the resolution is put forth.

“Even though the EPA has not come out with a definitive ruling on crumb rubber and carcinogenic effects, I feel that there is enough evidence out there for us to be very cautionary and to protect the health of Westfield residents and whoever else uses the parks and playgrounds,” O’Connell said.

“Sometimes it takes a while for regulations to catch up,” she added. “And in an abundance of caution our committee is putting forth this resolution.”

O’Connell was clear though, that the moratorium would not ban the use of crumb rubber on city property forever, but would rather provide time for more studies to be concluded before the material is used. Additionally, if studies show that there is no link then the moratorium can be revisited.

The resolution is set to now undergo revisions and changes according to O’Connell, and Babinski is set to meet with the city’s law department regarding the draft. From there, O’Connell expects the draft to go back to the committee when they next meet June 26, and then possibly go to city council as early as July 6.-The Westfield News

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Artificial slope lets you ski through summer

June 22, 2017

Skiing on artificial turf — to most Americans it’s a concept that sounds like some lame amusement park ride. But the fairly common practice in Europe might be catching on for the first time in the U.S. All we can say is, finally.

Residents of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, low-lying countries with few domestic skiing options, have known about synthetic skiing mats for years. A number of artificial slope companies have been immensely successful in tapping into these previously ski-deprived countries. Skiers and snowboarders in Europe flock to dry slopes for their convenient accessibility, year-round opportunities to train, and most of all the surprisingly realistic simulation of the feeling of snow.

Now Americans are getting their chance to find out what the craze is about. This month Buck Hill Ski Resort in Burnsville, Minnesota, known as the old stomping grounds of Lindsey Vonn, will inaugurate their first summer ski season with a Neveplast artificial ski slope.

An Italian company known widely throughout Europe, Neveplast has brought its innovative snow-simulating synthetic material across the Atlantic to join the ranks of just a handful of other dry slopes in North America. The synthetic material is arranged in a series of concentric bristles, sort of like your run-of-the-mill toilet scrubber or toothbrush, which, according to Neveplast’s website provides a “high degree of slipperiness without the use of water” guaranteeing “conditions equal to those of natural compact snow.”

The material isn’t only useful on barren, snow-starved hilltops in the summer months. It’s also designed for use throughout the year, providing an extra layer of slickness when snow hasn’t piled heavily or evenly.

Buck Hill had rolled out an initial stage of its four-acre Neveplast slope last fall, allowing ticket-holders to get a jumpstart on ski season before the first snowfall. But this will be the first time guests will get a chance to ski and board on the hottest days of the year.

The Neveplast slope will also have a new look than past visitors may remember. The resort announced on its Facebook page that it was in the process of reconfiguring the setup for the upcoming season, stating, “This new layout will be a blast and will better suit our guests’ needs.”

In an interview with CBS Minnesota, Buck Hill ski trainer Jacob Olsen said, “A lot of the competition we’re racing against in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains get to have a much longer season, so we’re hoping to gain a competitive advantage by [offering] being able to ski all year.”

With a similar artificial dry slope made by British company Snowflex on the Liberty University campus, and an already-massive popularity in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, we could be seeing the start of a summer skiing boom in the States.

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AstroTurf merges manufacturing to one site in GA

June 22, 2017

AstroTurf Corp., the Dalton, GA maker of athletic playing surfaces, is merging all its manufacturing under one roof as it moves to meet rising demand for its products. The company, bought last year by Germany-based SportGroup Holdings after AstroTurf LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has seen sales jump by 40 percent so far in 2017 and it’s undertaking a multimillion- dollar investment in equipment, officials said. AstroTurf Chief Executive Heard Smith said all the operations to produce synthetic turf are shifting to one 400,000-square-foot building on Callahan Road in Dalton.

“We’re going to significantly reduce transportation costs and waste while improving the quality and efficiency of our manufacturing processes,” he said in a statement.

AstroTurf Marketing Director Sydney Stahlbaum said the company is shifting from three separate locations to the one building it’s leasing to house manufacturing. The company’s headquarters will remain on Abutment Road, but operations management, human resources, information technology and research and development will have offices in the new facility.

“With this type of investment, we have a long-term intention to be there,” Stahlbaum said. “We have state-of-the-art equipment.”

The new facility will enable the company to control every step of its production process and make turf quicker, she said.

By the beginning of July, the company will employ more than 400 people in the manufacturing, sales, and installation of North American sports fields, the marketing director said.

“Investing in the new manufacturing facilities was critical to keep up with the rapid growth of both AstroTurf for athletic fields and SYNLawn for landscape use,” she said.

AstroTurf North American revenues are in excess of $300 million, Stahlbaum said. Sales are higher due to its relationship with SportGroup Holding and organic growth, she said.

Looking ahead, Stahlbaum said, the company is expecting rapid growth domestically and abroad, with plans to expand operations to Europe, India and Asia.

Stahlbaum said one of the facilities it’s leaving has housed AstroTurf operations since 1968.

“There’s a lot of history in that building,” she said. “We’re excited about the future and growth but sad to move out of that building.”

AstroTurf LLC filed for bankruptcy reorganization last year after a court granted a $30 million judgment against the company stemming from a patent infringement lawsuit brought by rival FieldTurf USA.-Mike Pare at

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STMA introduces the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship

June 20, 2017

STMA and the SAFE Foundation would like to introduce the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship. As the association’s membership knows very well, Darian Daily was a role model within our industry as well as within his own family. A man with incredible work ethic, Darian showed strong support of the STMA and his peers. As Darian was a loving father, the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship is designed to help parents and guardians provide an education for their children.

Darian was the head sports field manager at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati when he died unexpectedly last at age 47. An STMA member for 20 years, he was a former STMA Board member and a Certified Sports Turf Manager. He received the Dick Ericson Founders Award in 2011 for his work at Paul Brown Stadium. The award is given annually to someone who plans and executes the sports turf management of their facility, who effectively leads their team to accomplish their goals in field maintenance, and who positively impacts the sports turf industry.

James Hlavaty, CSFM, Natural Grass Product Line Manager at Pioneer Athletics and friend of Darian’s for almost 20 years, can testify to Darian’s impact on the industry. “I think he touched so many people industry-wise, and fostered so many people. Whether they were new to the industry or young in the industry, he shared those experiences with them. There was never anyone he wouldn’t talk to and take the time with to share that knowledge.”

The Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship will be awarded each year in the amount of $2,500 each to two qualified individuals. Recipients must be currently enrolled or enrolling into a recognized college or university. This scholarship will support students who have chosen an academic field of study outside of the turfgrass industry. The parent or guardian of the recipient must be a current STMA member for the past 3 years, and must fill out an application and complete an essay outlining their child’s qualifications, along with sending in the student’s high school or most current college transcript.

STMA board member Weston Appelfeller, CSFM, said, “Darian was a great friend, colleague, sports turf manager, and foremost, a father. One of his lasting legacies will forever be the interest and time he invested in students. The SAFE Scholarship Committee was honored to help in the creation of the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship and hope this will embody the true spirit that Darian had as a parent and a mentor.”

To apply, the STMA Member must complete and submit the application form and supply a transcript, original essay and letter of acceptance no later than October 15. The application requests information regarding the student’s activities outside of school, academic distinctions or honors, and school-related activities the student has participated in. The essay prompt asks the STMA member, “What legacy do you want to leave your child and how has your career helped define that?” Members are asked to use specific examples detailing their relationship and how the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship could help them achieve that goal.

Eric Brown, Managing Director of Paul Brown Stadium, explains why Darian’s legacy is important: “He was a man who was not afraid to share everything he knew with anyone else in the industry. He thought it as a responsibility to train and teach younger people to make them better as they moved into the green industry.”

All applications must be submitted electronically to before October 15 to be eligible for the scholarship. The application can be found on the Scholarship Program page on STMA’s website,, under the Professionalism tab. Please reach out to STMA if you have any questions regarding the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship. STMA and the SAFE Foundation are excited for the opportunity for Darian’s legacy to live on and help educate our next generation.

Tony Leonard, Director of Grounds at the Philadelphia Eagles and friend of Darian’s for 15 years, expressed the importance of such an honor. “I think he represents everything we all want to be. A great husband and father, he always wanted to be a great leader in our industry, and promote it as much as he could. It’s a tremendous honor and I can’t imagine this scholarship being dedicated to anyone else.”

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Stars and Stripes Mowing Pattern Contest is Open!

June 20, 2017

The 2nd annual STMA “Stars and Stripes” contest is officially open! Kick off the summer by entering your best mowing pattern today.

Craft unique Fourth of July-theme field designs with mowing equipment for eligibility to win complimentary registration to the 2018 STMA Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Entries are submitted via Facebook before July 9 and the winner is announced on July 19. Only STMA members are eligible to enter.

Last year’s winner, Casey Griffin, former Director of Field Operations for the Albuquerque Isotopes, generated nearly 500 “likes” for his intricate fan-shaped design at Isotopes Park.

For added inspiration, “Freedom on the 50 Yard Line,” “Merica” and “God Bless the USA” were among the 2016 designs submitted by turf professionals from major sports leagues, NCAA, and parks and recreation sectors.

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STMA to roll out Environmental Facility Certification Program 2.0

June 20, 2017

The STMA Environmental Committee is finishing its review of the 2.0 version of the Environmental Facility Certification Program, which will be released later this month.

The original version was rolled out on June 7, 2016. To date it has 22 facilities certified.

Version 2.0 has very few changes; however, some questions have been reworded for clarification. Additional questions have been added to the irrigation and water quality section to provide more information to the committee about these practices. The assessment form itself has undergone some functional upgrades to help participants make certain they are providing all the information requested.

Look for the official rollout later this month.


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Waterborne illness prevention tips

June 20, 2017

Ten years after Utah’s worst outbreak of the water-borne cryptosporidiosis bacteria, health officials are still not taking chances with residents’ safety during the summer outdoor swim season.

With national averages of crypto outbreaks in pools and water playgrounds doubling in the last two years, Salt Lake County Health Department officials warned swimmers Wednesday to avoid drinking pool water to protect against contracting the illness.

“The public has been our first line of defense against crypto and other waterborne illnesses and we haven’t had any kind of outbreak in many years because of it,” said Rick Ledbetter, the department’s water quality supervisor. “People are doing the basics to help everyone stay safe and this is another reminder of how to keep doing just that.”

Cryptosporidium is a parasitic infection spread through ingesting trace amounts of infected poop. It is the most common diarrheal infection linked to swimming pools, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can survive in chemically treated water for up to 10 days.

Utah Department of Health data indicates there were 181 cases of crypto statewide last year, with more than a third of those linked to recreational water exposure. In May, the CDC reported crypto outbreaks in pools and water playgrounds across the country increased from 16 in 2014 to 32 in 2016.

Meanwhile, a national survey conducted on behalf of the Water and Health Council suggests that one in four adults have gone swimming within an hour of having diarrhea and about three in five admitted to swallowing pool water while swimming.

“Your local public swimming pool is not your local toilet or bathtub,” said Ledbetter. “You wouldn’t want to drink the water from the toilet bowl or bathtub and take on those germs.”

Although health officials test water samples from public pools each month they are open, Ledbetter said residents are still advised to take simple preventative measures to avoid the spread of illness.

According to the CDC, key safeguards include staying out of public pools for at least two weeks after having diarrhea; rinsing off before entering a pool or after going to the bathroom; and not swallowing pool water.

Parents should use waterproof diapers on swimming infants, while also making sure younger children take regular bathroom breaks at the pool and that they shower before that first plunge.

Taryn Wright, a mother of four from Kearns, said going over pool safety with her kids including “not going potty in the pool” is part of their regular summer routine.

“It’s not really for them. It’s actually for me and my sanity,” Wright joked while sitting on steps in the shallow end of the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center. “We couldn’t come to the pool because I would be a ball of stress. Having them know what we need to do before and after we get in the pool is important.”- by Kelly Gifford, The Salt Lake Tribune

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2018 STMA Conference Tracks now set

June 13, 2017

STMA’s Conference Education Committee is working hard to put together another fantastic education program. The 2018 Conference will have 8 tracks focusing on the different aspects of sports field and facility management.

  • The Professional Development track focuses on self-improvement and successfully managing your team of employees.
  • The Agronomic track offers sessions on cultural practices for cool-season, warm-season and transition zone turfgrass managers.
  • Our Renovation track features sessions on cool-season renovation practices, as well as successfully resurrecting existing athletic fields.
  • Pest control provides updates on current control measures for turfgrass weeds and insects. Sessions with your specific budget in mind provides solutions to K-12 managers for addressing pest problems.
  • The Synthetic track will update managers on synthetic base system guidelines, as well as address crumb rubber infill recycling procedures.
  • Industry Developments provides updates to sports turf managers on what is new in the industry. New research on field performance testing and athlete to surface interactions, as well as new products and services are featured in this track.
  • The Facility Management track helps you run your program more efficiently. This year features sessions on legal issues, budgets, and leasing.
  • Our new educational track for 2018 is Soils. The Soils track will focus on soil science and discuss various issues including soil moisture, drainage, and soil pH modification.

The Conference Education Committee has created a program that has something for everyone. Don’t miss all that the 2018 Conference has to offer!

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Texas A&M University turfgrass program highlighted

June 13, 2017

From time to time, Toro Grounds for Success newsletter talks to turf schools around the country to get a snapshot of current research and how it could shape tomorrow’s practices. [Toro] talked with Ben Wherley, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Wherley is an associate professor of turfgrass science and ecology in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.

According to Wherley, hands-on experience outside the classroom is a big part of the turf program at Texas A&M. One opportunity is the Aggie Turf Club, which allows students to interact with industry professionals and guest speakers, go on site visits and connect with internships.

The turf program also has a strong relationship with the university’s campus athletic department. Students who are interested in sports turf careers can work closely with athletic field manager Craig Potts and assistant athletic field maintenance manager Nick McKenna.

In addition, Texas A&M is in a prime location to take advantage of volunteer opportunities at PGA tournaments and other events. Last year alone, groups of students volunteered at the AT&T Byron Nelson Tournament in the Dallas area, the Dell Match Play event in Austin and the Shell Houston Open.

The university even hires several undergraduate student researchers each year. These students help collect data and oversee research trials, which opens their eyes to future opportunities in graduate school and the turf industry.

Beyond work experience, Texas A&M strives to provide students with other ways to gain exposure to the turf industry. Students attend the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) conference each year, as well as the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) show. Wherley also credits a strong Texas A&M alumni base for providing valuable networking connections.

The hands-on learning doesn’t stop inside the classroom, either. Wherley and soil physics professor Dr. Kevin McInnes co-teach a new course called Sports Field Construction, in which students build an actual sports field. Right now, Wherley’s students are building a 5,000 sq. ft. USGA putting green, doing everything from surveying the site to installing drainage and irrigation to planting grass.

The course also has a lab component in which students run physical soil testing to understand how various types of sand will perform in an athletic field or putting green — not only in terms of water management, but also in terms of playability. It’s intended to give students a fundamental grasp of soil physics in sand-based root systems.

Another high-impact learning experience is the Turf Management Systems course, in which students are given a facility case study and must develop a management plan that includes both agronomic and budgetary considerations.

Regardless of the course, there is strong faculty involvement with students both in and out of the classroom. It all adds up to a solid agronomic knowledge base in soil fertility and physics, as well as plant physiology and water usage.

On the research side, Wherley notes that Texas A&M has a multidisciplinary turf program, meaning that there’s a lot of collaboration among various disciplines. Researchers on turf pathology, turfgrass breeding, water quality and environmental quality issues all work together to solve turf problems.

Staff recently moved into a new 12,000 sq. ft. research facility, called the Scotts Miracle-Gro Facility for Lawn and Garden Research. Texas A&M works with Scotts on developing sustainable nutrient management programs for southern landscapes.

University researchers also work closely with the United States Golf Association (USGA). In fact, they are currently working on a three-year project for the USGA to develop construction specifications for the depth and composition of sand-capped fairway systems. In this method, a layer of sand is placed over existing native soil prior to establishment, allowing turf managers to better manage salts and create more playable conditions after heavy rain events.

Texas A&M is also working with the USGA on a multi-year shade study for determining minimal light requirements for zoysiagrass and bermudagrass cultivars in fairway and rough situations. Plus, the university is part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), a multi-state collaborative project with four other universities. This initiative is sponsored by the USDA with the goal of developing new warm-season grass cultivars that can tolerate prolonged drought and salinity.

One of the projects Wherley is most excited about is a partnership with Texas A&M’s engineering department to develop a new technology for conserving water in the landscape.

Urban landscape irrigation runoff is a growing problem, not only wasting potable water but also potentially causing water quality issues by carrying bacteria, excess fertilizer nutrients, sediment and more into local bodies of water.

For the last two years, a team co-led by Wherley and Dr. Jorge Alvarado, associate professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution, have been working on a solution. The result is the patent-pending Landscape Irrigation Runoff Mitigation System (LIRMS).

LIRMS is built from two main components: a sensor that can detect when runoff is happening, and a connection to either the main sprinkler system controller or individual sprinklers so that irrigation can be temporarily paused or stopped when runoff occurs.

This non-invasive system can be installed into a curb, where it senses runoff and pauses landscape irrigation for a given amount of time. As a result, irrigation is applied in shorter, intermittent pulses, which allows a more efficient and complete soaking of the soil to take place.

The current focus for this three-year project is testing and perfecting LIRMS to be even more efficient. But so far, the results have been extremely positive. Tests show the system has the potential to save 50 to 75 percent of runoff, dramatically improving soil moisture per gallon of water that’s applied through irrigation systems. The system is expected to be available to the public within the next few years.

These examples are just a taste of the promising work going on at Texas A&M University. For more information about other research projects and the school’s overall turf program, please visit

Categories: test feeds

STMA helping sports get green

June 13, 2017

For the fifth year, STMA has been named a Community Partner with the Green Sports Alliance Summit, which will be held in Sacramento, June 27-29. As a community partner, STMA receives a partnership table to distribute literature and meet face-to-face with attendees. STMA members also receive a $50 discount on the registration fees. Click here to register. (Put in promotional code STMA to receive the discount).

The annual Green Sports Alliance Summit is the world’s largest and most influential gathering for the sports community to unite around sustainability. The event brings together more than 800 industry stakeholders to learn and share better practices and the latest innovations in greening operations, advancing the supply chain and engaging fans.

For more details about the summit, click here.

Categories: test feeds

New degree program in agriculture in Colorado

June 13, 2017

Colorado State University (CSU) has teamed up with Adams State University to launch a new degree program in agriculture, which is designed to prepare students for careers on farms and ranches. In addition, students from the San Luis Valley area will be able to pursue the degree through Adams State University in their local region.

Courses in agriculture that are offered by CSU include soil and crop science, horticulture, water conservation and greenhouse management. General education requirements, as well as business and biology courses, will be offered to students at Adams State University.

“As the state’s land-grant university, Colorado State has a strong commitment to agricultural research and education focused on feeding our planet,” said Colorado State University President Tony Frank. “Adams State, with its rich regional university tradition, is located in one of the state’s most important agricultural regions. We’re enormously proud to bring these campuses together to leverage our strengths and provide the opportunity of agricultural education to a greater number of talented Colorado students.”

The degree program will combine face-to-face courses and online classes. Coursework from CSU will also transfer to Adams State University and go toward a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: General Agriculture.

“Our new program will give students a well-built foundation in agricultural sciences,” said Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure.

More information on the agriculture program can be found by visiting

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Stars and Stripes Contest opens June 19

June 6, 2017

Start planning today – the 2nd annual STMA “Stars and Stripes” contest launches June 19. Enter for a chance to win a complimentary pass to the 2018 STMA Conference next January in Fort Worth, TX.

In honor of our countrymen and our nation’s birthday, design your most unique Fourth of July field art design and snap some beauty shots of your work. Rules: You must be an active STMA member to enter, and only patterns crafted with mowing equipment are eligible.

Last year, more than 20 contest entries were received via social media. The 2016 winner, Casey Griffin, former Director of Field Operations for the Albuquerque Isotopes, generated nearly 500 “likes” for his intricate design at Isotopes Park.

The contest begins at 9:00 am CDT on June 19. Plan your mowing schedule today for your chance to win big!

Categories: test feeds

Western Michigan Soccer Complex receives $75,000 field upgrade

June 6, 2017

The Western Michigan University Soccer Complex is currently undergoing a $75,000 renovation in which the existing surface is being removed and several upgrades are being made through the installation of a new playing field. The project is expected to be completed before the start of the fall season.

Fraze mowing, a process originally developed and perfected on European soccer fields, is being used to remove the top layer of the playing surface to correct issues with the field. The process will improve drainage and balance the playing surface, removing uneven slopes in the field. The surface will also be laser-graded to improve playability in wet weather.

In the final stages, the soil will be prepared for seed and new varieties of grass tailored specifically for soccer pitches will be introduced. The field will then be fertilized, top dressed and ready for play in 90 days upon completion.

Formally known as “Lee Baker Field,” the WMU Soccer Complex has seen extensive renovations over the last six years, transforming the complex into one of the finest in the Mid-American Conference and the Midwest.

Prior to the 2015 season, expanded bleacher seating was installed and a fully operational press box was constructed. In 2013, a paved parking lot with a new entrance and walkway were created where dirt and grass once stood. The complex received a new drainage system and new fencing, while back poles and netting were also put in place. A new mower was purchased that same year to keep the natural-grass playing surface at ideal height. Initial upgrades began in 2012 when the complex received new team dugouts and fencing to enclose the game field.

See photo

Categories: test feeds

Germany to be home to world’s first Suprastadio

June 6, 2017
Dresden, Germany will be home to the world’s first “Suprastadio” with the expansion plans of DDV Stadium employing the radical design concept introduced by the German architectural firm Interpol. Contractor BAM Sports GmbH has teamed up with the architects and will build the first grandstand using the new concept at the DDV Stadium, as reported by Coliseum.

Suprastadio translates into an entirely different way of building a stadium that really does break the mold. The designers have come up with a unique way to seat spectators that is more compact and efficient. If one were to look at the Suprastadio from a cross-section perspective, the shape of the stands would very closely resemble that of a vast wave, wrapping the field of play.

Read more here

Categories: test feeds

New helmet in NFL

June 6, 2017

Except when a big star doesn’t show up or gets injured, it’s rare that NFL minicamps make many headlines.

That could change this month.

NFL teams will be trying out a new helmet, the VICIS Zero 1, that the league and the players’ union hope will be more effective in trying to limit head trauma. The new product topped independent testing of 33 helmets conducted in Canada by the league and NFLPA. The results, which included testing the impact at three velocities and in eight locations on each helmet, were sent to each team and to the players.

The Zero 1 is the first to account for rotational as well as linear impact. Scientific studies have indicated that rotational impact has more correlation with concussions.

“All helmets that are certified are available for players to wear, we just take another step with which ones tested best in the lab,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety policies. “We make it clear in our communications, this is just lab testing and how that translates to on the field is an open issue.”

The NFL and union have released a poster highlighting results of the testing, which can’t reflect the comfort element. That’s entirely up to each player, and the Zero 1 already hit a snag last year when two universities, Oregon and Washington, sent them back because they weren’t comfortable.

“Equipment managers are great in making it clear this is one element of which helmet they should choose,” Miller adds of the testing, conducted in January and March. “Fit matters and comfort matters, and other issues that are relevant to a player.”

The Zero 1 has been 31/2 years in the making. It has two layers, and deforms (basically, compresses) and reforms in the first layer. The second layer absorbs much of the force.

Even before the players strap on the Zero 1, there are skeptics. They include Chris Nowinski, founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, who worries about a potential trickle-down effect. He strongly supports not having kids play football until they reach high school, and fears messaging to parents that it’s a good idea to allow their youngsters to play the sport because of an improved helmet.

“I’m well aware of marketing messages promoting the values of the game without talking about the risk of the game,” Nowinski said. “The overall effect can be negative, selling these to children who shouldn’t be playing.

“Yes, it is possible to improve helmets, but is it possible to improve them enough to make a big dent in CTE or concussion risk? At this point I haven’t seen those revolutionary changes.”

The NFL and players’ union are hopeful the Zero 1 can lead to such changes. The helmet retails for a pricey $1,500 and is only available to NFL and college teams. For now, the focus is on minicamps, where contact doesn’t compare to real games, but offers a valid starting point in evaluation of the helmet.- by The Salt Lake Tribune

Categories: test feeds

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