The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) is celebrating its 15th anniversary of volunteering as the grounds crew for the Little League World Series (LLWS).
Seth Whitehill, Little League Baseball’s groundskeeper and STMA member since 2011, will lead 40 STMA volunteers in preparing and managing the fields for more than 30 televised games on ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPNU and WATCH ESPN over a 10-day period in late August in Williamsport, Pa.
The 88-acre Little League complex features six fields, one full-size baseball field, two premier stadiums, two practice fields and one practice infield.
“Our No. 1 goal is providing a safe playing surface for the athletes,” Whitehill says.
The volunteers serving on this year’s grounds crew represent multiple STMA regional chapters, traveling from as far as California to assist with the LLWS. Three members have assisted for 20 years.
Jeff Fowler, an STMA board member, has helped the last 15 years as a volunteer and will coordinate logistics with Whitehill for the 40 volunteers. This year is more special than most as he will be joined by his father, Don, and son, Evan.
“It is an exciting year for our family as three generations will be represented,” says Fowler, district director for Penn State University’s cooperative extension. “Sports turf has been a common bond for all of us and I look forward to sharing quality time with them.”
The two premier stadiums, Lamade and Volunteer, feature Kentucky bluegrass. In addition to daily mowing and painting lines, the volunteer grounds team will carefully water each field, broom the edges and make necessary repairs to the clay in the home plate circle and pitcher’s mound.
In addition to the STMA’s milestone, this year marks the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball and the 68th anniversary for the LLWS.