The Ewing Sports Field Team was thrilled to participate in the Sports Field Management Association’s 2023 Conference and Exhibition, held Jan. 16 to 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ewing is a proud conference sponsor of the event.
Don Brasseaux, Jim Barbuto, Jeremy Bohonko, Brad Garrison, Raul Gonzalez, Tim Lambert, Kevin Scott, and I spent a productive week learning, networking, and doing our part to help move the sports field industry forward. Here are some of the highlights.
Devon Carroll, PhD. of Envu Golf US discussed the significance and importance of having more women involved in sports field management during Tuesday’s Women’s Forum sponsored by Hunter. Her incredible presentation was eye-opening to the fact that we need more involvement from the demographic to grow and flourish as an industry. Afterward, those who attended had a great conversation about the vital role women play in the industry already and how much more needs to be done. With the labor shortage we are currently experiencing industrywide, we need to keep expanding our base of qualified individuals and this is a great place to start!
SAFE Foundation Bowling Fundraiser
We attended the annual Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE) Foundation’s Bowling Fundraiser, helping raise money for scholarships and research. SAFE is the charitable arm of SFMA, the nation’s only association for the sports field management industry. We had a great evening bowling with our industry friends and partners, all for a great cause.
The annual meeting kicked off Wednesday with a keynote from DeMaurice F. Smith, Executive Director, National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). As an advocate for NFL player safety and health, it was great to be part of this address. We learned about what the association is, how and what it provides NFL players, and the role NFLPA plays in the players’ day-to-day lives.
One of my key takeways from his talk—the NFL has a 100% injury rate, is taking steps to lessen the severity of those injuries, and it really is a deep concern of the NFLPA. During a Q&A with Mr. Smith, attendees got to ask him about our roles as field/event managers and the many challenges sports field managers face on a regular basis. He sounded excited about working with the SFMA on issues going forward.
The meeting also featured some big announcements. Laura Simmons was formally announced as SFMA’s new Chief Executive Officer. She replaces Kim Heck, who helped lead the SFMA for many years. This year’s board also was announced. It’s led by new President Sun Roesslein, CSFM, who I am happy to call an industry partner and friend. The lunch wrapped up with a general business meeting that included installing new officers and a financial update.
This is an exciting time to be involved in our association. For more on SFMA, its leadership, and programs, visit the association’s website.
Team Ewing hosted many of our customers and industry partners at a very unique event Wednesday evening. We joined forces at Social Axe Throwing to socialize and mingle with our great customers from across the country.
As usual, the trade show/exhibition did not disappoint. It is a true showcase of any and all products available to help sports field managers manage and maintain our fields of play. We are so fortunate to have so many vendor partners in attendance and it is always a highlight for our team to spend time with our friends and customers. The trade show also is a great networking opportunity for everyone to share successes and stories, meet old friends ,and make new connections.
Women in Turf Presentation
I was fortunate to share a stage with a great group of women—Women in Turf—all of whom joined me last summer at the 2022 Little League Softball World Series (LLSBWS) as field maintenance crew volunteers in Greenville, North Carolina. More specifically, they were part of the event’s first-ever all-female grounds crew that ran the last few days of the LLSWS. You can read about their groundbreaking endeavors in my blog article, Little League Softball World Series Volunteers Make History, Inspire Through Teamwork.
The presentation featured a panel discussion about volunteering for sports field events. Sun Roesslein, CSFM; Amy Fouty, CSFM; Sarah Martin, CSFM; Nina Oldencamp, Maritza Martinez, and I covered how Women In Turf came to be the first group of all-female field managers to work in conjunction with each other at the LLSBWS last year. We detailed the impact of the event and how it came to fruition. We also discussed the planning, travel, sponsors, networking, learning experiences, and new friendships and relationships that we developed, as well as the crew’s impact on not just those of us involved but the industry as a whole.
We also talked about how impactful we as sports field managers can be to our local communities just by volunteering for an hour or a day or a week. It was truly the highlight of my week. I am proud to call each of these women true partners in our industry and even more proud to call them sisters.
Ewing is always honored to support the future of our industry. We are sponsors, along with Hunter, of the SFMA Student Challenge. Multiple teams from universities and colleges (two- and four-year programs) nationwide compete in a quiz-bowl-type of setting to test their knowledge and turfgrass science skills. It’s a very demanding competition.
More than 25 teams competed in this year challenge, and Ewing’s own Raul Gonzalez, Vice President of Industry Relations, was there to present medals to the winners. See the two-year results here and the four-year results here. The future is bright in our industry and we are so glad to be part of this unique event at the SFMA Conference year after year.
Salt Lake City was an amazing experience for Team Ewing and we are so fortunate to have so many partners and friends who we spend time with each conference year.
We are already looking forward to next year’s event, scheduled for Jan. 22 to 25, 2024, in Daytona Beach, Florida.