Highlights from the 2023 Sports Field Managers Association Annual Meeting – HLA Happenings

Highlights from the 2023 Sports Field Managers Association Annual Meeting

Emma Seward, William “Billy” Myrehn, Jacob Winger (holding trophy) and Drew Coe with award presenter.

Cale Bigelow and Jada Powlen attended and participated in the 2023 Sports Field Managers Association (SFMA) annual meeting last week in Salt Lake City, UT. They co-presented a seminar “What’s new in cultural practices for turf disease suppression” and Cale presented two seminars: Turfgrass nutrition 101 and co-presented Practical calculations for the sports field manager with Dr. Barry Stewart from Mississippi State Univ.

Two teams of undergraduates attended the Sports Field Managers Association annual meeting and competed in the Collegiate Quiz Bowl challenge. The competition consisted of about 30 teams from two-year and four-year turf science programs from across the United States. The team of Emma Seward, William “Billy” Myrehn, Jacob Winger and Drew Coe won the 4-year event making Purdue Turf Science students “back-to-back National SFMA Collegiate Challenge Champions”. The students were coached and prepared for the competition by Ph.D. candidate, Ms. Jada Powlen and Dr. Cale Bigelow. The trophy was presented by Mr. James Bergdoll, immediate past-President of the SFMA and Purdue Turf Science graduate. The SFMA Collegiate Quiz bowl examines the team’s knowledge on practical topics like turf/weed/insect identification, mathematical calculations related to sports field industry as well as topics like irrigation, and a practical case study on topics like what would be required to renovate a tired neglected sports field in a particular geographic climate. The Student Challenge was first held in 2004 and Purdue students have won the 4-year competition in 2005, 2011, 2012, 2022 and 2023.

Jacob Winger received a James Watson Memorial scholarship. The Watson Scholarships are named in honor of long-time green industry researcher and consultant Dr. James Watson and are presented to outstanding graduate and undergraduate students.

Cale Bigelow facing camera while standing on grass.

Cale Bigelow received one of four “Founder’s Awards” from The Sports Field Managers Association (SFMA), The W.H. Daniel Founder’s Award in recognition of sustained contributions and excellence in Turf Science education, research and outreach for the Sports Field industry. The Award is named after Dr. William “Bill” Daniel, one of the four original founders of the SFMA, and former Professor at Purdue University. Dr. Daniel set the pattern for educator/researcher involvement in SFMA and the professional sports field management profession and developed some of the sports field technologies like The P.A.T. “Prescription Athletic Turf” system, widely used in stadium athletic field construction. This Award recognizes an individual who has made significant sustained contributions to the sports field industry through their teaching/mentoring, research with purpose, and industry engagement and outreach.

Two Purdue Turf Science alumni; Stephen Ruckman (Director of Henrico County Parks and Rec) and Ben Baumer (Assistant Field Manager-Chicago Bears) were inducted into the elite group of Certified Sports Field Managers by the SFMA.

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