Well, it feels like I say this every year lately. It seems like all it does is rain all Spring when you are trying to get work on fields and get them ready for the start of the Spring sports season. This spring we have had lots of rain as well as cooler than normal temperatures. Whether we are talking about baseball, softball, soccer or lacrosse fields, the weather has made it difficult to get them ready. This challenge is nothing new, of course. The unpredictability of Spring weather may make things more difficult, but it also stretches and challenges us as it makes us think outside of the box almost every day. Pushing through the weather, drawing on our creativity and knowledge, and rolling with game schedule changes, while frustrating, also often brings out the best in us, and lets us really put all our skills to use.
When you set up your schedule during the winter, you look for days that you have open, try to plan some smaller projects. You might see your window to rebuild home plate or the pitcher’s mound, for instance. Often, however, Mother Nature often has other plans for you. You find yourself needing to figure out how to install new tennis nets while lining JV baseball, varsity softball and prepping for games, as well as mowing four ball fields in the same day. Under normal circumstances this would be difficult depending on your staffing abilities and where the fields are located. But the weather makes you work hard to figure out a good strategy to get everything done. Working at different sites also poses many challenges to get the work done in a timely manner. Making all this happen as well as not wearing out your crews can also pose challenges, and this is when our professionalism and expertise really come through.
Having great resources as well as relationships is so important to get all this demanding work done. Being able to bounce ideas and thoughts off other people that are in the same environment as you can really make you feel more at ease in the worst of situations. At some point all your contacts and relationships have been in the same or similar situations, and they are always willing to offer you their ideas and suggestions for each situation.
Within our industry, we have great camaraderie between each other and, just like in team sports, we work together as professionals to help each other out. This holds true whether you work for the same organization or are competitors. Even a rival school district will be your partner when it comes to making our athletic fields both safe and aesthetically pleasing. Being able to work together and know that you always have someone that you can reach out to, whether it be a vendor, a fellow co-worker, or a rival school district, makes our profession different than others. We always have each other’s backs, and never make someone feel bad by asking for help. This sets us up differently from so many other professions. It is important to know there is always someone out there that is willing to help you, whether it be participating in brainstorming, offering suggestions, or even physically helping you do the work. Next time you are at a conference or in a room with other fellow athletic field professionals, take a moment to realize how lucky you are, and always be willing to meet and greet new people in the field. They just might be the person that comes and saves you at some point in the future.