Operations Manager, Parks & Open Space, Brookline, Massachusetts DPW
Where did you go to school?
I started at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks of NY as a Forestry – Park Planning and Administration major. At the time it was a two-year institution. After the two years, I transferred to Rhode Island College and received my Bachelor’s degree in management.
How did you get your start in the sports turf industry?
I spent 15 years with the TruGreen Companies. We partnered with McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI as well as a few municipalities in Rhode Island. My real introduction and education began when I became the Assistant Superintendent of Parks for East Providence, RI. We didn’t have a defined turf management plan and so we developed it field by field. Its success culminated with one of our baseball complexes being selected to host the State Little League finals tournament.
Where did you go from there?
After 10 years in East Providence, I became the Operations Manager for Brookline (MA) Parks and Open Space. I’ll hit the 10-year milestone this June.
Who have been your sports turf mentors through the years?
The phrase ‘it takes a village’ certainly is true in my case. Tom Dorsey (Cranston, RI P&R) was the first to take me under his wing. Rex Eberly (South Kingston, RI P&R) was also someone always available for me to bounce ideas off. It certainly helped that we worked for the same department so I could call or drive five minutes and consult with Joe Medeiros (East Providence, RI P&R) at Pierce Field. He not only mentored on how to maintain exceptional fields but how to deal with users and the general public.
What’s your favorite thing about your current position?
Brookline has a long history of supporting its athletic facilities and parks. Meeting that expectation is demanding but also very satisfying. I’m fortunate to have an Athletic Field Supervisor, David Croteau, to lead our athletic turf management program. Between us we have more than 60 years of experience growing turf which is routinely tested in this urban, high usage environment.
What is a project you recently completed?
We recently completed an Athletic Field Needs Assessment and Master Plan. It revealed some of what we already suspected – fields are over-used, and we need more. I’m sure it’s the same for many of the members reading this magazine.
What is the next “game-changer” you see on the horizon for the sports turf industry?
I believe robotics are going to start playing a role in many of the tasks that we do on athletic fields. I see them more as tools to let us concentrate on the important tasks that require a trained eye, like infield maintenance, while the robot mows or paints in the lines.
What’s your favorite / most useful:
Aerator, aerator, aerator – solid, core, dimple
Humates – it’s always about the soil
Irrigation Central Control – water plays such an important part of what we do both as a means for our end product but also our role in sustainability and climate change.
Can you share a bit about your family life and what you enjoy doing in your free time?
We are a hiking and camping family, so being outdoors is key. I have three college-age daughters, so watching them grow into confident young women has been great. Of course, watching them clean their rooms out for the final time will also be enjoyable.
What advice would you share with people starting out in sports turf management today?
You can’t learn what we do in a college classroom or from the seat of a truck. You’ve got to get on your hands and knees and learn it. Yes, green thick grass looks great, but our true mission is to provide athletes of any age a safe playing surface. That’s the goal!
What have you found most beneficial about being a NESTMA member?
There are two. First is being able to vent at a meeting or listen to someone else vent almost the same scenario as you. We’re all generally fighting the same type of battles. Second is my amazement in the high quality of knowledge we have here in New England. When we wrote our first Athletic Field Maintenance BMPs here in Brookline, we asked Mike Buras (Longwood Cricket Club) to read it and offer changes/ideas, which he graciously provided. Ed Olsen, Dennis Brolin, Dave Pinsonneault are all valuable sources of information right here where we live and work.READ THE ISSUE