Toro, NIAAA Perform “Extreme Makeover” On School Athletic Fields

On August 3, it wasn’t the players who were taking the fields at Moore High School in Louisville, Ky. That day, a group of more than 20 adult volunteers with Toro turf-management equipment gathered at the site to rebuild the softball and baseball fields’ athletic surfaces at the economically challenged school.

It was all part of the second annual “Field Renovation Day,” of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associate (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 a number of 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.”

At Moore High School—a facility combining middle school and high school grades—the baseball and softball fields needed a professional touch. The playing surfaces were uneven and drainage was a problem. Players were frustrated by unpredictable and potentially painful bad bounces.

Using field maintenance products from Toro, Turface sports field conditioner, LESCO herbicides and fertilizer, new sod and lots of manpower, the volunteers went to work. Toro provided several pieces of equipment, including a Groundsmaster 3500-D rotary mower, a Workman utility vehicle, a Toro Dingo and an infield groomer.

“Toro has a strong commitment to young athletes and the sports turf industry, and we’re pleased to be part of the NIAAA efforts to renovate these playing fields,” said Tim Koch, grounds marketing manager for Toro. “As a sponsor of the Association’s Sports Turf Leadership Training Program for high school athletic directors and the Super Bowl Sports Turf Training Program, we also appreciate the important educational opportunities provided by the NIAAA Field Renovation project.”

Volunteers worked from early morning until late afternoon, with the majority of their efforts devoted to the softball field. The volunteers leveled the surfaces and aerated them, dragged nearly 3 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 approximately three feet. Base paths were re-measured 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 possible 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.”

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