It was a beautiful day in Compton, California for the First MLB Urban Youth Academy Field Maintenance Clinic. It was attended by over 60 students and local residents from the municipal area. What made this event different from many field clinics, schools and institutes …is that it was absolutely FREE.
Barney Lopas, Anaheim Angels Head Groundskeeper, Kyle Waters, Director of field operations at the Home Depot Center, Chad Olsen, Director of STS field operations and myself demonstrated baseball field maintenance techniques throughout the day that included interactive participation from the attendees. Darrell Miller, Executive Director of the Academy was all smiles as he also took a spin on one of the John Deere mowers used to cut the grass at the facility.
The event is one of many that will be held at the facility over the next few years. Plans are already underway for quarterly field day clinics that will showcase MLB and Professional groundskeepers giving back to the community. A series of Future clinics will outline field maintenance techniques for all levels of baseball field play.
Being able to witness the excitement from the teenagers and adults as they listened to the presentations was truly rewarding. The academy provides a great location for the development of future baseball or softball groundskeepers in the sports turf industry. Internships are planned for the summer at the Academy and several students inquired about the positions. A very special thanks to Chad, Barney and Kyle for taking time to be a part of this program . Sharing information about experiences with those that are eager to learn about the sportsturf business is the the core of our industry. Stayed tuned for the next session which is slated to be held in February.
USA may have won the gold medal at the Pre-Olympic tournament in Havana but at the same time many friendships were forged between American and Cuban people. For me it was the ground crews of Latino Americano, Changa and Nelson Fernandez stadium that also exhibited a gold medal performance through the tournament. With all of the efforts and time spent renovating and maintaining the field in a very difficult climate they deserve a lot of credit for keeping the fields safe. IBAF provided some resources for the tournament regarding equipment and materials from Canada but everything else came from Cuba.
The Latino Americano crew was managed by Juan. Juan was the groundskeeper in 1999 for the Orioles Cuba game as well. In general… he is the motivator and leader of sportsturf management in Cuba. He is supported by Chino, Landi, Marcos, Beeeccckkky, and several others that were extremely happy to be learning from our American crew which included Chad Olsen, Erik Frye, Darrell Lemmer, Brian Fitz, Budgie Clark and Rick Newville and at the same time we were able to learn from them as well.
The Latino Americano crew was managed by Juan. Juan was the groundskeeper in 1999 for the Orioles Cuba game as well. In general… he is the motivator and leader of sportsturf management in Cuba.
He is supported by Chino, Landi, Marcos, Beeeccckkky, and several others that were extremely happy to be learning from our American crew which included Chad Olsen, Erik Frye, Darrell Lemmer, Brian Fitz, Budgie Clark and Rick Newville and at the same time we were able to learn from them as well.
The Cuban federation president Carlos and INDER President Christian set the tone for the goals that needed to be achieved before and during the tournament. Our interpreter Elias worked tirelessly with logistical issues and training of the crews.
Can’t forget our drivers Ernesto and Felix who had many early mornings due to the 10am games followed by 9pm starts. Not more than a few hours of sleep for a couple weeks.
Thanks to a great crew and staff for making this event successful.
After a huge rain storm it turned out to be a great night for USA
Baseball… Yes.. we are going to the 2008 Olympics!! With Cuba beating Mexico tonight it locked both Cuba and USA into the 8 team bracket for 08. Photo above is Paul Seiler, Executive Director of USA Baseball Congratulating team USA after the final out of the game..
Probably the hardest rain since Hurricane Ernesto came down on Nelson Fernandez field causing a 3 hour rain delay. The crew dumped 40 bags of drying amendments on the field which really made it work. Then hand raked the field several times. Great job crew!
Chad Olsen, STS Project Director, headed up the local ground crew to get the game started. After Canada completed there win over Dominican, the USA /Panama game didn?t start until 9:00pm making for a long but rewarding night.
(John from MLB covers the story from the pressbox at Nelson Fernandez)
USA- Cuba will still compete at Latino Americano Tuesday to determine who gets the crown of this tournament ….whether it be USA or Cuba, both have already earned the real goal and that was to win a spot in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.