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Extreme Turf Makeover

Sports fields at a Kentucky high school get a
much needed makeover by NIAA and Toro volunteers

By Jodie Carter, regional editor

Using Turface sports field conditioner, fertilizer, new sod, LESCO herbicides and lots of manpower, volunteers went to work turning a rough, bumpy high school sports field into what is now a prime playing surface (above). Toro donated the use of several pieces of equipment, including a Groundsmaster(R) 3500-D rotary mower, a Workman(R) utility vehicle, a Toro Dingo(R) (below) and an infield groomer.

On August 3, it wasn't the players who were grouped on the sports fields at Moore High School, an economically challenged campus in Louisville, Kentucky. That day, a group of more than 20 adult volunteers with Toro turf-management equipment met to rebuild the high school's softball and baseball fields' athletic surfaces that were uneven and posed drainage problems. Players were frustrated by unpredictable and potentially painful bad bounces.

It was all part of the second annual "Field Renovation Day" of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), in cooperation with The Toro Company, the Kentucky Chapter of the STMA (Sports Turf Managers Association), Kenney Machinery, Turface (a division of Profile Products), NIAAA Sports Turf Committee members and other sponsors.

"The purpose of this event was to help a school that does not have the resources to enhance the quality of their athletic fields," said Frank Kovaleski, NIAAA national director. "As a former high school athletic director, I know how difficult it can be to maintain athletic fields on a budget."

Volunteers worked from early morning until late afternoon. The volunteers leveled the surfaces and aerated them, dragged nearly three tons of Turface into the infield, filled in low spots, applied weed control to the fields, rebuilt the pitcher's mound and addressed drainage issues. Fencing around a backstop was secured and a foul pole was reset. Base paths were remeasured and laid out properly, and the fields were carefully mowed, edged and striped.

"We hit the ground running," said Brad Rumble, liaison to the NIAAA Sports Turf Committee. "Anything we could possibly do to improve the fields, we were going to do. We factor in aesthetics and playability, but our number one priority has always been risk minimization."

"It was an athletic-field version of an 'extreme makeover,' or a rags-to-riches story for the softball field," said Kovaleski. "The NIAAA takes great pride in being the leader in sports turf education for athletic directors, and being able to offer a community service project like this is just icing on the cake. We appreciate the support of the companies and volunteers who helped make this happen, and for Toro's leadership on the project."

"Fields that are well-maintained and attractive will send a positive message to the community about the athletic director and the school," said Ray Ebersole, NIAAA sports turf committee chair.

For the Field Renovation Day, other athletic directors from the area were invited to observe the renovation and gain a better understanding of optimal maintenance practices.

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October 17, 2019, 6:32 am PDT

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