So Much More than Mowing
Nov. 25, 2003
By Jeff Robinson, Fourth-Year
After renovations in 2000, David A. Harrison III field at Scott Stadium was awarded the 2001 Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) award for Football Field of the Year. Up until 1993 the Cavaliers hosted opponents on an artificial playing surface. Since its replacement, David A. Harrison field has been improved upon through multiple renovations.
After the removal of the artificial turf, the sports field maintenance staff experimented with blue grass for two years before switching to a Valmont Bermuda grass playing surface. Vamont Bermuda grass is known for being durable and cold weather tolerant. The Cavaliers played on Vamont until it was replaced with Tifsport Bermuda Grass for the 2001 season. Tifsport Bermuda is a new grass variety that combines texture, durability, cold hardiness, and a low fertility requirement that preserves good color year round.
The beauty of David A. Harrison Field’s 95,000 square feet is maintained through an irrigation system that utilizes 40 sprinkler heads in 13 zones. If too much water is an issue, the football field is equipped with a Motz PAT drainage system. Since 1995, David A. Harrison III field has been laid upon a 12″ sand base with drainage tiles and a vacuum that can remove 20″ of water per hour. Scott Stadium’s drainage system allows a game to be played on a safe surface when Charlottesville is hit with its hardest rain and flash flooding.
In the colder months of fall, the Tifsport Bermuda grass is over seeded with perennial rye grass. The rye grass cover not only protects the Tifsport against the cold, but also stops the Bermuda from becoming dormant and turning brown. When the temperature at night falls below 30 degrees, the field must be insulated with growth covers that enhance the rye grass cover.
The lines and graphics on David A. Harrison III field are painted with special turf paint that is environmentally friendly. Lines must meet all regulations of both the NCAA and ACC. The V-sabre that marks the center of the field is repainted each game with a specially manufactured 48′ long stencil. The current diamond end zone scheme was selected by the football office and also requires the use of specially manufactured stencils. Depending on the weather, it takes about 40 man-hours to paint the field before a game.
The superior playing surfaces of the University’s 23 acres of competitive and practice fields, including the award winning David A. Harrison III football field, are maintained by Jimmy Rodgers, CSFM, the Sports Field Manager since June of 2000, and his three assistants, Tracy Burge, Henry Shifflet, and Daniel Thompson. Scott Stadium is just one of over 13 fields that the staff is responsible for maintaining for all University of Virginia Athletics.
Jimmy Rodgers said the main goal of the Sports Field Maintenance staff was to “provide excellent playing surfaces that give coaches the most fire power to prepare their team.”
All fields are provided maintenance on a needed basis. Coaches are encouraged to communicate instances such as standing water, holes, and other wear and tear that occur on their practice and game fields. The practice fields are cared for daily with a focus on durability, while the competitive fields are prepared for visual enhancement.
Jimmy Rodgers said, ” my crew is the best in the nation…I am there on the management side, but without them, it would not get done.”
The University of Virginia Sports Field Maintenance Staff efforts will be recognized once again at the 2003 Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Awards banquet held on January 23, 2004 in San Diego, California. The University of Virginia will receive STMA’s highest honor when accepting the 2003 Sports Complex of the Year award.
The award winning staff continues to be driven to “provide world class turf grass for student athletes,” Jimmy said, “and when it is appreciated, it is a great feeling.”