This time of year, baseball and softball are usually on the backburner. However, in warm climates things are starting to ramp up in preparations for the upcoming seasons. Our Homefield crews are spread out across the Southern and Western U.S. getting fields ready to play. One of our crews are currently down in the Sunshine State, working to help get these fields ready for the fast-approaching season. Most recently, they just finished up an overhaul at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Their Superintendent of Athletic Grounds, Corey Levine, shares his experience:
When I came here initially to the University of North Florida, we had some DuraEdge on our baseball field. It wasn’t a lot, but it was amended, and you could see a big difference in the way it played versus how our softball field did. The softball field around here was referred to as the “Parking Lot” due to how hard it was. A lot of the girls would rip their pants in practice and were nervous to even slide on it. It was inconsistent too, with bad hops being a common occurrence. But it took a serious incident where one of the players took a bad hop off her face, breaking her nose and getting a concussion, to really open some eyes.
I really fought for a change and did my homework on what other schools and groundskeepers across the country were using. We had to explain to the administration the safety and playability aspects of DuraEdge to win them over. It’s a more consistent product and is easier for us to control – meaning no bad hops. This was enough to prompt them to get the funds to do it and no one has looked back since. We ultimately decided to go with four inches instead of two. We wanted to do it right the first time. Part of those funds come out of my operating budget, but to me, it is worth it. The coaches and players have gotten to walk on it and are already able to see a difference; a corkiness.
The guys from Homefield were excellent. We knew going in, with Homefield, they would be traveling from a distance to come do this, making logistics a challenge. However, the process was easy, and they did an excellent job of fitting me in to get this knocked out before the season. Mack did an excellent job grading and getting everything how we wanted it. The whole crew was very professional and detail oriented. This has been my best experience since I’ve been here at UNF dealing with a subcontractor. I wasn’t all that surprised though. After talking to my colleagues around the country, the work they’ve done from PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates) to local Little League is all the same. Now, the work begins trying to get baseball to be the next one to get the full makeover.