Barrett Bowerman has been the Turf Grass Manager of FNC Park for five years. The three years previous to that he was Assistant Turf Grass Manager. In his time as Turf Grass Manager, the soccer, baseball and softball fields have been kept in immaculate shape. He and his staff work hard daily to provide the best playing surfaces in not only the state of Mississippi, but in the Southeast.
Q: Barrett, what do you attribute to having the best playing surfaces around?
A: We have the best guys working at FNC Park. Great employees that have a diverse skill set are the reason why the park looks so great all the time. We can do many projects in-house, and the city has provided our crew with the equipment and support to maintain a facility of our size.
Q: What goes into maintaining the playing surfaces?
A: It is very hard to explain to people the amount of work that goes into maintaining the turf at FNC Park. Most citizens probably think all we do is cut grass, but that is far from actuality. We are constantly using Best Practice Methods that are recommended by Sports Turf Managers Association. We aerate, verticut, ground quake, top dress with screened sand, take soil samples, fertilize, manage pH, repair damaged sod, over seed, and focus on weed and pest management such as fire ants and army worms…and that’s just one week in July!
Q: What would you want the public to know who uses the turf at FNC Park during the weeknights and weekends?
A: Try not to park on the grass. It causes compaction which results in unsightly dead areas. It also crushes expensive underground irrigation heads. Respect the facility: pick up after yourselves, don’t litter, stay out of the flowerbeds, and ask yourself, “Is this going to hurt the field?” An example for our soccer fields is to stay out of the goal mouths as much as possible. I see so many team meetings right in front of the goal mouth. Try not to start the majority of drills and warmups from the boundary lines. Painted lines on the fields take a beating because it’s such a convenient starting point.
Q: What makes the soccer fields look so green?
A: In the winter, the soccer fields look green because we overseed with rye grass. During the summer, we perform many Best Practices to keep the fields green. This is accomplished through proper methods such as aerating and verticutting.
Q: What do you love most about your job as Turf Grass Manager?
A: I love working with my co-workers, it’s the best part of the job! The men here are great people and fun to work with. Work rarely seems like work with this crew because everyone genuinely wants to WORK! That seems like a rarity these days. We have a tremendously positive camaraderie at FNC Park.
Q: If you could leave the public with one message about the turf at FNC Park, what would that be?
A: This may seem excessive, but treat the turf like you would the carpet of your home. Don’t spit pistachio hulls and other food on the soccer fields. We have to sweep them up. Don’t pour out sports drinks on the fields; they are sugary and attract ants. Don’t spit tobacco on the fields. Children play and roll around on the grass; so that’s just unsanitary. Also, don’t apply sunscreen on your children while they are on the field. Most people don’t realize this, but the propellants in the aerosol cans kill the grass. So, we are left with little brown shoes prints where they were standing. The main idea is to respect the great investment Oxford has made and your experience at FNC Park will be that much more enjoyable.