It’s July, the temperature is hot, summer vacation is in full swing and that means that everybody is trying to soak up the sun’s rays while they’re still strong. Between baseball games, softball tournaments and soccer matches, Woodbury’s athletic fields are in high use this time of year. During these events, the athletes focus on doing their best to win the game, the coaches focus on their players and the parents cheer from the sidelines.
Win or lose, almost everybody gets to pack up and head home after the game. The ones who stay after the cheering ends might be the most crucial pieces of the puzzle toward the enjoyment of the well-manicured fields. Together, Woodbury’s parks staff and South Washington County Schools grounds crew make up one powerhouse team of their own.
Overall, Woodbury’s parks and schools house many baseball and softball fields, plus 55 soccer and lacrosse fields. Additionally, there are seven multi-use fields for various other sports and activities such as football, kickball and more. According to city of Woodbury baseball groundskeeper Scott Schaffer, “Bielenberg Sports Center (BSC) is by far the most popular and highly sought-after facility; held to very high standards, BSC requires more full-time as well as seasonal staff members to complete daily maintenance tasks.” Ojibway Park comes in a close second in terms of popularity due to the number of baseball and softball tournaments held there throughout the summer months.
Per the joint effort agreement with the city, the South Washington County Schools grounds crew is responsible for grooming and chalking varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball fields every game day during the spring. At the beginning of the soccer and football seasons, playing fields are initially measured, laid out and painted. The parks department is in charge of edging fields, mound repair, daily grooming, preparing for Woodbury Athletic Association (WAA) and East Ridge Athletic Association (ERAA) athletic tournaments, trash removal, building maintenance and restroom cleaning, fence repair, general turf upkeep and many more daily, weekly and monthly tasks that provide for fresh and clean playing grounds.
WAA executive director Gene Johnson credits the city staff for its hard work in maintaining the fields to allow games to go on, and for the line of communication they provide. “They do a tremendously good job taking care of issues,” he says. “We [communicate] regularly, often several times a week; if a coach has a concern we forward it to the city and they take care of it as soon as they can.” Johnson, who has been the head of the association for 14 years, claims he couldn’t ask for a better crew to keep Woodbury’s athletic fields in such great condition.
Woodbury parks department job titles include mower, baseball laborer, irrigation laborer, groomer, field painter, groundskeeper, irrigation lead and turf specialist. With a total staff of 22—full-time, part-time and seasonal—the grounds staff works year-round to make sure that each field is fully prepped and is ready for sports of every season.
A Breakdown of Field Upkeep
Aerating: Annually and as needed
Fertilizing: 4x per year
String trimming: Bi-weekly
Mowing: 3x weekly
Watering and irrigating: Daily