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Written by
Ross Kurcab
Published on
December 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM PST December 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM PSTth, December 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM PST

Tips From The Pros

Ross Kurcab is a Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) and a professional sports field consultant with 30 years’ experience
as a head turf manager in professional football. He graduated from Colorado State University’s Turfgrass Management program
and now operates and owns Championship Sports Turf Systems.


Holiday gift ideas for your favorite sports field manager

This holiday season you may be struggling with what to give your favorite sports field manager. Well, I’m here to help with some ideas for you to keep your favorite sports field manager more comfortable out there in the elements and be more productive.

Mechanix Gloves. This site has a huge variety of good work gloves to choose from. To me, good sports field manager’s gloves should be fairly lightweight and tough. I like padded palms, we tend to push a lot of tarp pins and other things into the ground. Thick, waterproof and winter gloves can cause sweaty hands and fatigue in your arms when working, in my experiences, because you have to work harder to grip the shovel handle, or whatever you are working on. Sure they get wet, so have two pair and rig a safe glove drier in your office or shop. This can be done by simply hanging a clothesline type arrangement in front of a good heater. Turf teamers can hang and dry gloves during break. Watch your distance and don’t start a fire! A better way is to get a good boot, glove and shoe dryer.

Mad Bomber hats. These type of hats are reputed to be used first by Genghis Khan’s armies in the brutally cold Mongolian steppes. They are down filled and the better ones have a soft rabbit-fur lining for comfort and a Gore-Tex shell to stay dry and breathe off sweat for your hard working field manager. You can flip the sides up in warmer weather. The forehead flaps were made for flipping down over your eyes when sleeping in the snow (not recommended) just in case you were wondering. In full button-up mode, you’ll keep a warm head, critical to stay warm overall. The super-cool look is just a bonus!

GoPro Camera. A good digital camera is a must tool for today’s sports field manager. You can’t always take the decision-makers down to the field to explain, but a good set of images or a short video can take the field up to their offices. Short video logs can be very useful for next year, when you may have forgotten all the ins and outs of an event or procedure. Sure, you can use a cell phone camera. They take good images these days. But our fields are large and wide. Nothing can get it all in one image like the wide-angle setting on the GoPro. It’s a very tough, small, high-quality camera that comes with a waterproof case and a set of mountings so you can really capture great images and video. A simple phone app controls everything. There’s even a setting for capturing images to use in time-lapse videos which can be a great way to document an event in terms of set-up, event and strike.

A set of Space Pens. These are pressurized ink pens that write upside down and in almost any environment. Your sports field managers don’t always work and write in a nice warm, dry office. These types of pens work great for taking notes or writing diagrams outdoors and they never fail.

Hunting Boots. Most winter boots are heavy, clunky and made to walk to the car or bus stop. Hunting boots are lightweight and made to walk miles in, which your sports field manager probably does every day. They are very durable, incredibly warm and very light. You can wear these boots all day and never want to take them off as soon as you come inside, like so many winter boots. There are other good brands beside Rocky’s, but I have a pair used for 8 seasons and still in great shape. They are typically waterproof to about 8-10 inches, allowing you to walk through deep, icy puddles with no problems, something most typical winter boots don’t do well. Some operations require a certain type of shoe or boot be worn at work, so check first.

Tilley hats. The typical baseball cap gets dirty and doesn’t shade the sides and back of your head and neck. Tilley hats are full brim and virtually indestructible. They float. They have chin-straps for high wind. You can wad them up and smash them into your luggage and they pop-out in perfect shape. You want a light-weight, indestructible, full-brim hat when trying to stay cool on long, hot summer days. What other hat comes with an instruction manual and is guaranteed for life, even if you lose it? A way better look than the dirty, logo-laden baseball cap.

Ski Goggles. You don’t have to be a snow rider to use a set of ski goggles. Nothing is better when working in the snow and wind. You don’t need the highest quality pair here, but I do recommend a light yellow or copper tint to gather light and contrast in lower or flat light conditions.

A hot shirt. A comfortable lightweight, lightly colored shirt can make all the difference in working in the summer’s heat while still trying to look professional. As it turns out, quality outdoor shirts are not only in fashion, but make great work shirts for the sports field manager. The airflow from a ‘back-flap’ and good venting, along with newer material technology can really bring comfort to your hot, overworked sports field manager. I like Simms, Columbia, Kuhl and The North Face summer shirts.

A red Radio Flyer Wagon. This great toy from your youth is one of the more useful and versatile tools in any sports field management operation. Get the air-filled tires. Great for paint days, small excavation work and generally saving your back from carrying heavier items out on the field. A great conversation starter also!

Sunglasses! Don’t wear cheap sunglasses to protect your eyes and be a better sight-turfer. Again, good fishing sunglasses also make good turfing sunglasses. I love Costa del Mar Sunglasses. You can build your own set and choose between polycarbonate, glass and even prescription lenses. These sunglasses were made to be worn all day. They are lightweight and tough as nails. Great service also at Costa. When gifting sunglasses for a sports field manager, put this line in the card: “Because your future is so bright!”

NASA Turf Stress Detection Glasses. By filtering certain wavelengths of visible light, these glasses allow the user to tease out early plant stress signs that might otherwise be washed out by greens, blues and others. Not for use as every day sunglasses, but another tool in the box for the sports field manager.

Turf Tips 101: Basic snow removal.

It’s really amazing how poorly many of us shovel and move snow in the winter time. Once you do it professionally, you will quickly learn to do it right or get burned out fast. It may seem like a simple operation to shovel or plow some snow off your fields, in the stands and around the facility, and it is. But a few common mistakes can be unhealthy, unproductive and unsafe.

Get the right sized shovel for you. A too-short or too-long handled snow shovel can lead to fatigue and pain quickly. Many shovels, especially those with simple wood handles, are fairly easy to cut and re-install the grip on, allowing you to shorten the handle to you best size.

Get the right blade size for you. If you are not in great shape, or maybe older age is creeping up on you, you don’t want a huge shovel blade size. You want a smaller blades to take smaller and light bites out of the snowpack. The quickest way to fatigue and injury is taking too big a bite with each scoop.

Wear thinner gloves that allow a good grip. Thick, puffy ski gloves or mittens can quickly fatigue your hands and forearms because of the bulky grip on the shovel. Also, take your gloves off and use appropriate nitrile or latex PPE gloves when handling ice-melt products. Getting any product or even dust on your work gloves will dry out and shrivel a good set of gloves.

Shovel ergonomically. Here’s some good advice from a chiropractor in Wisconsin. He’s probably seen a snow shoveling injury or two.

Use the right shovel for the job. Not all shovels are the same. You will likely want a few different types for different projects and different storms. The three basic types that I have seen are push shovels, scoop shovels, and sled shovels, along with some other unique designs.

Push shovels are typically have a curved, wide and short blade and is made to slide along the ground and work kind of like a plow, sliding snow off to one side as you go along with a tilt or gathering snow for shorter, straight-ahead pushes. Click here for a push shovel example.

Scoop shovels are typically more square-bladed and made for scooping up snow, lifting it off and throwing it into a cart or stacked somewhere out of the way. These typically work better than push shovels in deeper, heavier snows. You can use a scoop shovel for push shoveling, but you can’t really use a push shovel for scooping. I prefer light weight plastic over metal blades. Less fatigue and they don’t get bent. Click here for a scoop shovel example.

Sled shovels are designed for working on deep snows where you don’t necessarily have to remove to clean ground and you’ll see them used at the ski areas often. Click here for a sled shovel example.

In my opinion, nothing beats a good grain hog scoop shovel. They are durable, versatile and very productive in moving snow. And then there’s The Snow Wovel wheeled snow shovel.

Make sure your shovel is designed in such a way as to allow for efficient back-dragging. This is used to get snow from against a wall, in the corners and works great on stairs.

Get the right handle. I’m not a fan of the bent “ergonomic” handles that purport to save your back. They are hard to change your push-angle as needed and are really hard when you twist the shovel (not your back) to throw snow to the side. If you use one, get one with a slightly curved handle, not a strong ‘dog-leg’ curved handle. Dual handles are like skinnier lawn mower handles that can mount a large, versatile blade and take really big, heavy scoops. Click here for a dual-handled snow shovel example. Maybe add on a Shovel Master Handle?

Grip. D-shaped grips are the way to go with thinly padded, non-slip cross-bars.

Some other tips:

Don’t wait for a storm to purchase your snow shovels and other winter supplies/equipment. You’ll get slim pickings and not what you want. There are many different types of snow and ice storms depending on where you are, the time of the winter season and each particular storm dynamics. As such, you’ll want different types of equipment and techniques in your snow removal toolbox. For example, a light, very cold and fluffy snow that only accumulated to an inch or so may better be removed with some type of large blower rather than shovels. This would not work on a warmer, wetter and stickier snow.

Try spraying a light coat of cooking oil spray or a light lubricant like WD-40 on your shovel blade for sticky snows. Get a good ice scraper shovel for the really tough, icy spots. Learn to shovel snow left and right handed, you’ll go further in my experiences.

Resources of the month

A fun read on some history of snow removal in the US.

Want to hire out? Many cities now have UBER type apps for that!

The NFL’s top 10 snow games!

End Quote

“Whoever said ‘Do the job right the first time and you’ll never have to do it again’, never had to shovel snow.” -Unknown

Posted December 17, 2019