The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Nov.)

Tales of the “tool of torture” inspired our determination for

Finding the SweetSpot.

Few innovations made an impact like this tamp.
The idea for designing a new tamp began with our desire to create a tamp that had interchangeable head sizes to better zero in on the combination of coverage and force to meet the job at hand. Soon after development got under way, our design team decided to also add a “dead-blow” dampening effect to the tool and to make a tamp where the head self-adjusted so the plate would always strike the clay squarely. Both of these improvements would ensure… Continue reading this article about the revolutionary SweetSpot Tamp from Paul Zwaska at Ballfields.com, “From a Basic Tool Comes a SweetSpot” — a ton of related videos, articles and training lessons are linked as well.
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Watch this simple demonstration of the SweetSpot’s game-changing features. Also, reference the lesson REPAIRING CLAY-FORTIFIED AREASat GroundskeeperU.com.
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THERE ONLY DAYS LEFT TO SAVE ON BATTING CAGES!
Beacon’s TUFFframe™ batting cage is extremely durable and unique. We have received many compliments from other teams because of the design and setup of our double-wide batting cages. We highly recommend working with Beacon to improve your complex.”
— Dick Flynn, Director of Public Works, City of Waupun, Waupun, WI
Phantom Tensioned Indoor Batting Cage
Phantom Tensioned Indoor Batting Cage
$2,065.00 – $3,145.00
View Product
TUFFframe Tensioned Outdoor Batting Cage
TUFFframe Tensioned Outdoor Batting Cage
$2,785.00 – $8,095.00
View Product
TUFFframe Modular Outdoor Batting Cage
TUFFframe Modular Outdoor Batting Cage
$2,785.00 – $8,095.00
View Product
Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
$599.00
View PRoduct

O P E N   B O X   I T E M   O F   T H E    W E E K

Dislodging Double 1st Base
Reg. $159 — NOW ONLY $99  SAVE $60!


Great Deal!  Dislodging double first base only… heavy-duty rubber construction. On impact the top portion dislodges from the bottom. Base only — steel anchors and base plugs not included. Like-new condition.
View Open Box Product
By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.
The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper University. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching summer help, volunteers, and new staff. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it with your colleagues on Facebook or Twitter!

Visit Groundskeeper U today!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Since 1981”

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La Vista’s Multi-sport Complex behind schedule, with sports fields now expected to open mid-2019 !

Omaha, NE – Sports fields that had been scheduled to open this year at the proposed Nebraska Multisport Complex in La Vista are now expected to be open in mid-2019.

Mike Cassling, chairman of the group’s board of directors, said that the board has created “a more prudent approach” to building the complex in phases. Still, grading for the fields is ongoing and 95 percent complete, he said.

“The board of directors are pleased with the level of support received and the strong interest from families, area foundations and corporations toward capital construction and programming,” he said in a statement.

Plans for the complex near Interstate 80 and Giles Road were made public in 2015. It was originally scheduled to open in 2017.

In August 2017, project organizers said the complex would be built in phases, with soccer fields and a field house opening in spring or summer of this year and the aquatic center opening in 2019.

The group has in storage an Olympic-size pool used in U.S. Swim Trials hosted in Omaha. That pool is slated for the natatorium.

Cassling said that revenue from field use and from other sources at the complex will help provide funds to build the project’s second phase. The second phase, he said, is the portion eligible for turnback tax dollars.

The project missed an October 2018 deadline to get the most possible state turnback tax from a nearby Costco that opened in 2016.

It’s unclear when the project’s field house and aquatic center is now expected to open. Cassling, through a spokeswoman, did not respond to The World-Herald’s request for additional information.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Police: Vandals did up to $10K in damage at Blue Ash Sports Center !

Cincinnati, OH – Someone caused between $8,000 and $10,000 worth of damage to the Blue Ash Sports Center on Grooms Road. Police are looking for the culprit. 

Damage included overturned trash cans in the concession area and bathrooms by Field B. In the men’s and women’s bathrooms, mirrors were broken, and stall doors were damaged.

The Blue Ash Sports Center, which opened in 1997, is a 37-acre facility with baseball and soccer fields used by high school teams and youth sports associations. 

Officer Jason Asbury found the damage during a routine check of the sports center at around 4:15 a.m. Nov. 16, according to police reports.

A homeless man who sometimes sleeps in the bathroom to shelter from the cold was in the men’s bathroom getting ready to go to his job when Asbury arrived. He told the officer the bathrooms were destroyed when he arrived at 11 p.m. the night before.

He told police he didn’t touch anything except to clear one area of glass shards so he could lay down to sleep. Police are questioning the man, but do not consider him a suspect.

There was also damage in the main building. Windows and a door were broken, and computer equipment including a Dell computer and a modem were damaged. Nothing appeared to be missing. 

Police found footprints on the soccer field between building and the bathroom that was damaged. There was a large expletive written into the snow near the main building.

Security from a nearby Kroger caught two vehicles pulling into the front lot near Grooms Road entering and exiting from the north but it’s not clear enough to identify vehicles.

A sports center employee told police no employees were fired or had any problems recently. While the center gets graffiti or tampering from time to time, this is the first time that something to this magnitude occurred at the sports complex.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Growth of Flag Football: With tackle football under pressure, supporters are rallying around flag !

Mateo Pulaski, left, runs for the end zone before realizing he lost a flag during a flag football game in Portland.

PORTLAND, OR. — Across an expansive stretch of Portland’s Payson Park, football games are being played on six fields on a brisk, autumn Saturday. Players clad in NFL-licensed jerseys check the play on their pro-style wrist bands before running slants, curls and fly patterns, juking defenders with spin moves, and scoring touchdowns.

There are occasional cheers but none of the frenzied, us-against-them friction that football often elicits. Relaxed parents casually sip coffee from travel mugs, seated in camp chairs they’ve pulled from their cars.

There are no cheerleaders, no snack shack turning burgers for booster dollars. Most of all, there is no tackling.

This is flag football. And it might just be the way to save tackle football.

Fear over concussions has contributed to a sharp decline in youth tackle football over the past decade, but proponents of the sport see a silver lining in the rise of non-contact flag football programs.

“I have a mission that (flag football) is going to impact tackle football in a positive way and increase tackle football at an older age group,” said Josh Wolfgram, the director of Portland Youth Football’s flag program. “I’m using flag football as a vehicle for kids and parents who may not feel comfortable playing at a younger age.”

Nationally, participation on tackle football teams among kids aged 6 to 12 declined by nearly 17 percent from 2010 to 2017, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Flag football participation increased by nearly 18 percent during the same years.

In southern Maine, some longstanding elementary and middle school tackle football programs have seen even steeper participation declines. In Portland, youth tackle participation has fallen from 189 to 103 players in the past four seasons. The Marshwood Little Hawks tackle program has declined by more than 50 percent in nine years, according to middle school coach Jeremy Drobish.

Meanwhile, the popularity of flag football has boomed, particularly in Portland and Scarborough, two communities with more than 100 flag players from kindergarten to sixth grade.

For Samantha Nicholas, a psychiatric nurse from Portland, flag football is the right choice for her son, Granton, a third-grader.

“His brain is still developing,” Nicholas said. “At this point it should really just be about learning the fundamentals and having fun with his friends.

“I’m focused on head safety and brain safety. Working in health care, I’ve read all the research about how blows to the head at a young age leads to a greater incidence of concussions, traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety, and other long-term, chronic issues.”

In the past year, a Boston University study found that playing tackle football before age 12 is linked to a threefold risk of depression as an adult. Those risks prompted legislators in five states (California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York) to propose bills banning tackle football for kids under the age of 12, though none of those bills made it to a vote.

Bill Harris, 44, of Scarborough describes himself as “a football guy,” but he’s glad flag football was an option for his son, Alek, a fifth-grader who had previously suffered concussions from playground accidents.

“He loves football, but we decided, let’s stick with flag for as long as it goes,” Harris said. “It’s definitely making a difference in Scarborough. All of a sudden you have over 100 kids playing flag and they’ve had fun. Everyone gets to touch the ball and you can learn skills, like breaking down for a tackle, when you’re going to get a flag.”

Other communities have seen growth in youth flag football and decline in tackle participation.

South Portland had just 21 players on its middle school roster this fall. After a winless season in the Southern Maine Youth Football League (SMYFL), South Portland forfeited its playoff game Saturday.

Westbrook dropped its middle school program from the SMYFL. The Greely Jr. Rangers combined with Yarmouth this season at the middle school level.

“Obviously in the state of Maine we know tackle football numbers are declining,” said Nick Cliche, the vice president of Portland Youth Football.

Wolfgram, the son of former South Portland High and Cheverus football coach John Wolfgram, is not alone in believing that flag football can be an alternative pathway to traditional 11-man tackle football.

The NFL Flag program, sponsored by the National Football League, has more than 400,000 players nationally. Every offensive player is eligible to handle the ball in NFL Flag 5-on-5 games. There are no linemen, with the exception of a center who snaps the ball. However, there is no blocking; intentional contact is not allowed anywhere on the field. Play is stopped when a defender pulls at a flag attached to the waist of a ball-carrier.

This fall there are over 500 players in the NFL Flag league run by Wolfgram and Amos Goss of Scarborough Youth Football that includes teams from Scarborough, Westbrook, South Portland, Windham, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Saco and Cape Elizabeth.

Flag football also offers time and cost advantages for parents.

For instance, in Scarborough, tackle football costs $175 to register and parents are responsible for buying a practice jersey, athletic supporter and cup, football pants with padding, cleats, socks, mouthguard and water bottle. Flag football costs $75 and parents only need to buy a mouthguard and water bottle (cleats are recommended). Game days are a four-hour commitment for tackle, two hours for flag. Tackle practices start in August (after Labor Day for flag) and are longer and more frequent during the season.

In the short term, flag football could be eroding tackle football’s participation rate at the youngest levels.

“In Scarborough, if flag is available, you might lose five tackle players to flag and gain 35 football players,” said Goss, who started Scarborough’s flag program with 15 players in 2013. “So it does chip away at the tackle to a degree at the youth level but you increase the overall number of football players. I think that will increase the number of middle school and high school players.”

That’s why Scarborough Youth Football is running its “Try Tackle” program this fall. Interested flag football players could test out wearing equipment and doing a few drills in a controlled environment. On Monday, 18 flag players in grades two to six were at Wiley Field in helmets, shoulder pads and jerseys under the direction of Scarborough’s middle school tackle coaches.

“We’re just trying to offer the kids and parents a bridge experience between flag and tackle,” said Josh Moore, a Scarborough Youth Football board member. “We’ll see how many of them make the jump (to tackle). We’re hoping at least some do.”

Michelle Romano was happy her son Joey could get a taste of tackle football. A Biddeford native, Romano fondly remembers how the rugged, disciplined team sport brought her hometown together, and how much it meant to her younger brother. But like many parents, she’s uncertain if the game is right for her own son.

“I grew up in a football town. I love football. I don’t want to see football go away but I’m very afraid of putting my small son in tackle football,” Romano said.

There are exceptions to the downward trend in tackle football participation.

The Saco Junior Trojans are Maine’s youth tackle football gold standard. Roughly 200 players fill out multiple teams at each age level from grades two to eight, including four separate fourth- to fifth-grade teams, ensuring Class A powerhouse Thornton Academy will continue to have well-stocked varsity and sub-varsity teams.

“The blueprint we use is to register early, get the word out as soon as possible, promote like crazy and it doesn’t hurt to have a successful high school program,” said Darrell Whitney, the league president.

The Junior Trojans do not oversee flag football. The Saco Parks & Recreation Department offers flag football for pre-K to third grade.

Whitney said he’s glad the town offers flag football.

“You’re not going to get a soccer player to convert to football too often, but more than likely you will get a few kids from flag football.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Nov.)

Knowing the right way will get you the best results with

Nail dragging protocol.

There’s a lot to know, and we have lots of info.
Depending upon depth, there are many reasons for scarifying or nail dragging your infield. Those reasons include maintaining your surface grade, scarify and restore a smooth playing surface, loosening heavily compacted soils, mixing soil amendments throughout the infield skin profile, or providing better resiliency. Continue reading this article from Paul Zwaska at Ballfields.com, “Spiking & Nail Dragging Protocol”  — many related videos, articles and training lessons are linked as well.
Go to Article
Beacon’s Groundskeeper University is a great tool that shows you the tried and true field maintenance techniques. Watch this comprehensive lesson about Scarifying the Infield Skin at Groundskeeper U.
Go to Lesson
THE BATTING CAGES SALE CONTINUES!
Beacon’s TUFFframe™ batting cage is extremely durable and unique. We have received many compliments from other teams because of the design and setup of our double-wide batting cages. We highly recommend working with Beacon to improve your complex.”
— Dick Flynn, Director of Public Works, City of Waupun, Waupun, WI
Phantom Tensioned Indoor Batting Cage
Phantom Tensioned Indoor Batting Cage
$2,065.00 – $3,145.00
View Product
TUFFframe Tensioned Outdoor Batting Cage
TUFFframe Tensioned Outdoor Batting Cage
$2,785.00 – $8,095.00
View Product
TUFFframe Modular Outdoor Batting Cage
TUFFframe Modular Outdoor Batting Cage
$2,785.00 – $8,095.00
View Product
Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
$599.00
View PRoduct

O P E N   B O X   I T E M   O F   T H E    W E E K

Dislodging Double 1st Base
Reg. $159 — NOW ONLY $99  SAVE $60!


Great Deal!  Dislodging double first base only… heavy-duty rubber construction. On impact the top portion dislodges from the bottom. Base only — steel anchors and base plugs not included. Like-new condition.
View Open Box Product
By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.
The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper University. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching summer help, volunteers, and new staff. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it with your colleagues on Facebook or Twitter !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Sports governing bodies face issues galore, limited resources !

Soon after he accepted the thankless task of trying to rebuild the sprawling, fractured operation at Indianapolis-based USA Track and Field, Doug Logan received a one-line text from the NBA commissioner at the time, David Stern: “You only take the easy ones.”

Logan laughed. Deep down, as the first commissioner of Major League Soccer in the late 1990s, Logan knew if he did what was necessary, he’d make enemies and be gone in a few years.

He lasted 26 months—not very surprising given the world of Olympic-style politics, infighting, limited resources and multilayered demands he walked into.

“There’s the old cliche of ‘low risk, high reward,'” Logan said. “Taking a job like that, it’s ‘high risk, low reward.'”

As the new CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland, or any of the three recently ousted leaders of Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics can attest to, the task of running an organization in the U.S. Olympic world looks like a job description from hell:

Wanted: Take-no-prisoners sports-and-business expert to run not-for-profit sports team in which you have no say in picking the players, and cannot pay them, either.

Salary: $1 million a year if you’re lucky.

Key challenges: Ensure athlete safety, both from abusers and day-to-day injuries common to your sport. Keep hundreds of grassroots clubs, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of recreational participants happy.

Also: From those grassroots programs, maintain a high-functioning, elite program guaranteed to win medals each year at world championships and Olympics.

Bonus: Be ready, at any given moment, to answer to the government, which ultimately controls your future but has vowed not to spend a penny toward furthering your success.

If you succeed, you get to keep your job. For a while, at least.

Ultimately, neither the USA Gymnastics board of directors nor the two leaders it chose to reboot the federation were up to these tasks. That led Hirshland to call for the dismantling of the national governing body, or NGB, torn apart by a sex-abuse scandal it couldn’t prevent, recognize or rebuild from. Hirshland’s own future will be decided in part by what the USOC does to replace the agency it seeks to tear apart.

USA Gymnastics is one of 50 national governing bodies for sports—all with differing sizes, agendas, budgets and staffs—but with this common thread:

“You have to not only look for ways to grow your sport, but also for ways to support your sport at the highest level,” said Rich Bender, the CEO of USA Wrestling in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “At times, you can get conflicted. One of the realities is, those NGBs that have found success have been able to marry the two.”

When Congress adopted the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act in 1978, its main motivation was to wrest control of the individual sports from the grip of the Amateur Athletic Union, which regulated most Olympic sports and often adopted rules that didn’t allow them to function well at the highest levels.

The law, likely to be revisited and tweaked in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal, established the modern-day USOC and gave it authority to choose which organizations would oversee the dozens of sports on the Olympic program.

Those organizations, the annual revenues of which fall in the range of anywhere from $750,000 (USA Badminton) to $35 million (USA Track and Field, U.S. Ski & Snowboard), are in control of much more than producing gold-medal Olympians, however.

“A lot of these NGBs have an executive, and he or she is doing press releases, folding towels and making sure they have a place to stay at the Olympics,” said Bob Condron, a longtime Olympic insider who worked at the USOC. “A lot don’t have the resources to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Jim Scherr, the former CEO of the USOC, ticked off no fewer than a dozen roles a typical NGB has to fulfill.

Among them: managing youth sports; developing athlete pipelines; liaising with the NCAA, which is a key part of that pipeline in the United States; marketing, promoting and delivering local programs and services; event management, both local and national; fundraising; sponsorship; media; ticketing; licensing; managing hundreds of volunteers whose only compensation are recognition and occasional access to events.

Board members that oversee the staff and set the direction of the organization are volunteers—usually not well versed in most, if not all, of these areas.

“There’s a cycle,” Scherr said. “Boards will focus for a while on athletic performance and hire someone who’s an expert there. Then, they’ll say, ‘We’ve lost sight of the bottom line,’ and the sports person will get replaced with someone they think can steward those resources. Then, that will get solidified and they’ll want someone who can drive media rights.

“Then, eventually, the focus shifts back to sports.”

Until, that is, the cycle is interrupted by an unexpected crisis, which is where USA Gymnastics and, to some extent, the USOC, now find themselves.

Sex abuse has, for now, replaced doping as the crisis that most Olympic organizations were not built to deal with. As the dig-out begins, Hirshland will have to find a leader for gymnastics who, first and foremost, understands the need to shift the focus to athlete safety—with some concrete actions to put behind the words. It is, even in this fraught time, not an area of expertise for most sports executives.

The last time this big an NGB was in this sort of peril came when Logan was hired, not long after the USOC threatened to cut off funding or decertify a federation it deemed to be poorly run by an unwieldy board of directors.

Logan cleaned house and tried to get a grip on a volunteer operation that many felt had gotten out of control. He also created a panel to assess why the team won a paltry 23 medals in track and field at the Beijing Olympics.

In the end, he was gone, and replaced by Max Siegel, an Indianapolis native and marketing veteran with NASCAR ties who has received equal doses of love and hate for his signature business accomplishment while at the helm — a 23-year extension on the sponsorship deal with Nike worth more than $450 million.

The U.S. team has won 29 (2012) and 32 (2016) Olympic medals under his watch.

But he has no illusions that these jobs are easy—or forever.

“When people approach it by saying, ‘It’s a (not-for-profit),’ the implication is that it’s a charitable organization,” Siegel said. “But that’s not the case, and running a public entity that has commercial objectives are not missions that go hand-in-hand. It’s a constant challenge and it is a built-in tension.”

Siegel, now in his seventh year at the helm of one of the toughest NGBs out there, is a rare exception.

The chilling fact is that almost everyone who has tried one of these jobs since the current framework was established in the 1970s has been shown the door—often in far less than seven years. Scherr said the USOC conducted a survey while he was CEO and found that, excluding a few outliers, the average tenure of an NGB executive was around 18 months.

“It takes a particular lunatic, like me, to be incented to do them,” Logan said. “But the thing that is exciting about them is the great challenge.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Nov.)

Float Dragging Protocol  !

When you’re at mid-season, you’re submersed in the intense maintenance of infield skins. One of the groundskeeper’s most important responsibilities in maintaining a ballfield is to ensure that the infield skin is firm, yet resilient, and that the surface grade is maintained properly so there are no low spots on the skin that will hold water from rain. The infield skin should have a consistent and smooth slope away from the infield in order to quickly surface drain rainwater off the infield. The slope is managed through the daily nail dragging and float dragging of the infield skin surface. In a previous post, we talked about nail dragging protocol for infield skins. Now, we’ll look at the second portion of the operation, float dragging.

Float dragging is the finishing portion of maintaining the infield skin surface. There are several different tools to use to give you a finished feel and look to the skin area. The common ones include the ever-popular steel mat drag, the cocoa mat drag, and the broom drag.
floatdrag1

    • STEEL MAT DRAG: Can be used in any type of soil. It is the only finish drag that will break up small soil clumps. Because of the way this drag is constructed, it transports infield material around because the steel mat drag must load up before it will drop off material. This can be used to a groundskeepers advantage to help cut down high spots and fill low spots.

floatdrag2

    • COCOA MAT DRAG:Should be used only on topdressed or very sandy infields. These drags are made using a dense stand of cocoa fibers embedded in a vinyl backing. Because these fibers are so dense, there is little if any transporting of infield materials. If you are towing one of these behind a vehicle, I highly recommend a leveling bar being attached in front of the cocoa drag to disperse any large piles of loose infield material or topdressing since the cocoa drag can’t grab it.

floatdrag3

  • DRAG BROOM: Just like the cocoa mat drag, the drag broom works best on topdressed infields and very sandy infield soils. They will not break up the soil chunks seen on heavier soil infields. Drag brooms hover over the surface, smoothing them out without transporting excess material.

I’m often asked, “Which drag should I get?” The answer is somewhat complicated. The steel mat drag works on any type of infield skin. The cocoa mat drags and the drag brooms work best on topdressed or very sandy infields. But ultimately, I like to have both a steel mat and a cocoa mat or drag broom in my shed. Why? Because the steel mat drag I will use whenever I need to manipulate my infield material by moving soil from high spots to low spots. Then, on a topdressed field, I would also have the cocoa mat or drag broom in my shed for when I just want to hover over the infield skin to just smooth everything out without transporting any material around. It’s a small price to pay to have all your options available for maintaining your infield skin.

When actually float dragging the infield skin, keep these tips in mind:

  • If pulling your drag with a vehicle proceed slowly, especially when cornering, to avoid “bowling out” the skin area.
  • Keep the vehicle towed drag at least 6 inches away from the infield skin edges. Use a hand drag to go along the edges. You will have more accurate control of the hand drag.
  • Just like when nail dragging, float drag your skinned areas in patterns perpendicular to each other to insure a smooth playing surface.
  • Start your float dragging in high areas (along the back arc edge of the infield or the 1st & 3rd base corners of a baseball infield) and finish in low spots (around bases and players positions) to help reduce low spots which lead to water ponding in rain situations.
  • Use a leveling bar in front of a towed drag mat to grab piles of loose material and spread them out ahead of the drag mat.
  • If hand dragging, walk a steady pace and don’t bounce your arm that you are pulling the drag with in order to avoid the drag bouncing and leaving ripples on the skin surface.
  • When finished, use a sifting shovel to screen any contaminants (rocks, pebbles, sticks, grass clippings, etc.) from the spoils left at the end of the drag and follow up using a level board to evenly distribute the remaining spoils around the area.

By properly maintaining the surface grade of your infield you will reduce, if not eliminate, any problems you will face during rainy weather. Additionally, the infield skin will play more true for the players who scamper around your infield.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.

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Yorktown sports complex set to open this spring !

YORKTOWN – A new 15-acre, $6 million facility that includes various ball courts, a putting green and a walking path is set to open this spring.

Granite Knolls sports and recreation complex on Stony Street will have basketball, pickleball and handball courts, as well as four fields that will be used by various schools and for tournaments.

There will be a charge for field use, but the rest of the activities are free for anyone. Officials expect the fields to open in March, and the courts to follow in May. Field rates have not yet been set.

“This will be ready to go for spring sports,” said Todd Orlowski, the superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, which will manage the facility. He didn’t have an exact date. 

During a recent tour, colored lines crisscrossed two of the fields that will soon host lacrosse and other sports. Blue is for the Yorktown High boys lacrosse team. Lakeland High field hockey gets the maroon, and football gets the white — the colored lines set the regulation boundaries for each sport.

There will also be a regulation-size baseball diamond and a smaller, handicap-accessible diamond for adult softball, kickball and other activities.

A concession building is ready, a basketball court still needs work, and the six pickleball courts will soon take shape. Handball courts are nearly finished, and there’s also a putting green coming.

Surrounding the fields, which are all artificial turf, is a half-mile path for walkers and runners that will link to 75 miles of town walking and mountain biking trails. There will also be a picnic area.

Officials want Granite Knolls to make money for the town by marketing it to the region. Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert said the complex could generate revenue by charging organizations or teams from surrounding communities that want it for tournaments or other events.

The facility is being paid for by Enbridge, the successor to Spectra Energy, which is replacing sections of the Algonquin gas pipeline that runs through town with a larger line. Enbridge has used a portion of the town’s other recreational complex, Legacy Fields, during the pipeline work, so it agreed to pay for Granite Knolls.

“It’s state of the art,” Gilbert said. Officials are looking to create 240 parking spaces, and more bleachers still need to be set up for spectators.

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Family Sports Park is an economic engine !

O’Fallon, IL. is recognized throughout the Midwest for its parks and recreation facilities and programming. Thousands of O’Fallon residents and visitors play on our state-of-the-art baseball and soccer fields at the Family Sports Park every week. The Sports Park has become an economic engine – creating investment and business success by attracting people to our hotels, restaurants and shops.

In addition to an economic catalyst, O’Fallon’s Parks and Recreation system also provides a much needed service to the residents of O’Fallon. O’Fallon offers recreational programming and available facilities year-round. The list of available programs, classes and facilities for rent is so comprehensive, it could take up this entire column. So, I invite you go visit the Parks and Recreation website at http://ofallonparksandrec.com/ to view what is available. This website is a “one-stop shop” where you can view available programs and facilities and sign up for any that catch your attention. There are programs for everyone, from the very young to our senior citizens.

O’Fallon is lucky to have high quality facilities that our residents can use. We owe this primarily to the very good job performed by our Parks and Recreation Department, with assistance from the O’Fallon Garden Club, O’Fallon Rotary, other volunteers and support from other city departments.

Recently, the Metro East Parks and Recreation District published its 2018 report that rated the areas’ best parks, sidewalks, trails and park paths. In their ratings, O’Fallon performed very well. O’Fallon was listed in the Top 10 for: number of parks, park acreage, miles of sidewalks, miles of bike trails and miles of park paths.

We were very happy to see that O’Fallon ranked No. 1 in Madison and St. Clair counties in both miles of sidewalks and miles of park paths.

Many would be satisfied with stopping there. But, the city of O’Fallon does not stand still. We continue to add new programming and amenities. And soon, we will be adding a new event space in downtown O’Fallon – O’Fallon Station, opening this fall.

As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.

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BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Oct.)

Enjoy the World Series!


Beacon’s SweetSpot Tamp is proudly on the field at both Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium for the World Series… go to a championship level and get yours today!

When you compare batting cages, you should know…

It takes ‘Good Bones’.

Beacon doesn’t just say “heavy-duty”.
Unlike indoor batting cages, outdoor cages are susceptible to forces that can threaten the structural integrity of the entire system. Depending on where your facility is located geographically, your batting cages may be threatened by wind, snow and/or freezing rain. A properly designed and engineered support structure will help to ensure that your batting cage frame has a long and productive life.

A good cage starts with “good bones”. When it comes to the support structure, you get what you pay for. Low cost cages are often constructed using thin-wall steel or aluminum tubing. While these cages easily please your budget, they may not perform for you in times of weather-inflicted stress. Beacon has seen numerous cases over the years of competitors’ cages or DIY projects that were constructed using materials too lightweight for the environmental forces they would inevitably need to endure… Continue reading about the importance of strong pipes for your batting cage and checkout a pipe comparison from Paul Zwaska on Ballfields.com.

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Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
Reg. $669 — NOW ONLY $599  SAVE $70!


This package already saves you $100 when compared to buying these accessories individually. But now you can save an additional $70 — for a total savings of $170 for a limited time! These are great way to get the most out of your batting cage. This batting cage accessory package includes: green 6′ x 12′ Hitting Mat without Home Plate, Pitcher’s L Screen, and green 7.5′ x 7.5′ Vinyl Net Protector with strike zone. Standard package also available.

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By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.
The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper University. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching summer help, volunteers, and new staff. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it with your colleagues on Facebook or Twitter!

Visit Groundskeeper U today!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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