Peak Performance: Moving mountains with new education, new connections, and new innovations at STMA
Denver, Colorado, January 16, 2015: Matrax Co-Founders Joe Wright and Dave Buddemeyer, along with National Sales Manager, Nicole Andrews, joined 1205 attendees and 169 exhibitors, representing 9 different countries to include Canada, France, China, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Japan, Spain, and the UK for Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) 26th Annual Conference & Exhibition hosted at what is fondly referred to as the Centennial State. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is one of America’s most unique travel destinations with a myriad of neighborhoods that feature a cuisine, attraction, or interest for every taste.
STMA was officially formed in 1981 with the belief that sports turf could be improved through the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of ideas. STMA advances professionalism in sports field management and safety through education, awareness programs, and industry development. STMA’s Annual Conference & Exhibition allows members to share information with other successful members of the sports turf industry. In addition to the educational seminars, hand-on workshop and the latest technology on display, conference attendees are able to tour professional college and municipal facilities that offer a range of insights to take back home. Professionals can also earn up to 1.5 CEUS through STMA.
To kick off the week’s events, keynote speaker Karl Mecklenburg, former Denver Broncos Captain and All-Pro Linebacker, addressed the members over lunch about the lessons life in the NFL taught him and his “Six Keys to Success” – teamwork, courage, dedication, desire, honesty and forgiveness, and goal setting. Karl rose from being a college walk-on and a twelfth round draft pick to a pro career that included six Pro Bowl and three Super Bowl appearances.
The optional full day seminar on wheels tour allowed members the opportunity to roam the fields of University of Colorado – Boulder, J5 Equestrian, Infinity Park, Lakewood Memorial Field, and Sports Authority Field at Mile. Participants were also given opportunities to engage with the groundkeepers and grounds foreman to ask technical questions such as turf installation, cold weather methods, and irrigation systems. A subsequent half day tour included visits to the infamous Dick Sporting Goods Park and Coors Field.
A variety of notable educational seminars were provided throughout the week. Matrax took special interest in “3 Keys to Managing High Traffic Turf” as presented by Michael Stachowicz of the National Park Service – National Mall and Memorial Parks. With over 25 million visitors annually and over 1,100 permitted events, Stachowicz stressed the importance of state of the art athletic field infrastructure, modern agronomy programs, and event management techniques as essential for turf survival on the Mall. Matrax was referenced as one of only a few pre-approved turf protection systems permitted for use on the National Mall. In fact, Matrax was part of a technical study conducted by Virginia Tech on behalf of the National Park Service, the results of which proved Matrax outperformed the competition.
Of similar interest to Matrax was Luke Yoder’s seminar on “How to Successfully Execute More Special Events on Your Field.” 23 Yoder expressed a startling fact that Petco Park has more non-sporting on-field events than actual San Diego Padre baseball games, averaging 100+ events per year vs. 80 games per year. Yoder went on to describe the challenges associated with this volume of pedestrian and heavy equipment traffic and ways to adapt while still maintaining a high quality natural grass and dirt playing field. Yoder suggested, in his experience, that a closed-back matting system (such as the Matrax 4×4 Composite) appears to perform better, eliminating the “greenhouse affect” that comes with the traditional open-back system.
The conference concluded on Friday, January 16, with a reception, live auction, and awards banquet in the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency at the Colorado Convention Center. STMA bestowed Founders Awards to four members to commemorate significant contributions to the profession. Recipients included:
- Dick Ericson Award: Tony Leonard, Philadelphia Eagles
- George Toma Award: Mike Albino, Ballard Sports
- William H. Daniel Award: Brian Scott, Mt. San Antonio College
- Harry C. Gill Award: Dr. Andrew McNitt, Penn State