Oklahoma Baptist University was recently honored with the 2016 Oklahoma Sports Field Managers Association Field of the Year award for the football field at Crain Family Stadium in the Eddie Hurt Jr. Athletic Complex. The team responsible for earning the award includes included Berry Nichols, grounds and athletic fields supervisor, and Andrew Thompson, groundskeeper/gardener. This is the first time OBU has received this award.
The University submitted an application to be considered for the award. The application process included detailed information about the year-round care of the field, usage of the field, what sports and events are played and held on the field, as well as photographic documentation of the field’s condition.
Nichols is proud of the award and the hard work his team puts in, week in and week out, throughout the year to keep the field in top shape. He credits Thompson, who does most of the mowing, with taking ownership of his fields like a seasoned veteran.
“We were diligent in the mowing, fertilization, and very particular on the amount of water for the field,” Nichols said. “We also are particular about the way the field was striped with the mower.”
Some of the key components for the field’s care include mowing the field four times per week during football season. The field is fed with a specific fertilizer in June, August, and mid-September, and is sprayed with nutrients and growth regulators bi-monthly. The team also applies fungicide and grub control in the spring. They likewise do a core aerification in June. Composting and fertilizing also adds to the field’s successful growth.
The field hosts many events throughout the year, including five or six football games, a family weekend event, and the Shawnee Little Olympics. It likewise hosts state high school track and field finals, national NCCAA track and field events, Super Summer events, track and field camps, and many track and field meets. It has also been home to a Relay for Life event, physical education classes multiple times each week during the semester, and daily track and field practices.
Nichols also noted that the field impresses other OBU employees, as well.
“Our public relations and audio/visual teams are always coming by to take pictures for different promotional programs, and love looking at the lush, dark green fields,” he said. “They have continually expressed amazement at how we can keep it looking great week after week, especially during our frequent spells of hot, dry weather.”
With OBU returning to football in 2013, the field is only four years old. He and Thompson, along with the entire facilities management team, have been privileged to provide such a spectacular field to the OBU family and the Shawnee community.
“OBU has a number of loyal alumni and private citizens of Shawnee who support the school during all of the events,” Nichols said. “The OBU grounds team takes great pride in providing them with a clean, safe, beautiful area to enjoy a game on a crisp fall afternoon.”