The Toro Company has named Georgeanna Heitshusen this year’s winner of the annual Toro Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program.
Heitshusen, an Iowa State University horticulture major with an emphasis on turfgrass management, will be on-hand at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., for Super Bowl 50 to assist the grounds crew in preparation for the game.
Since 1967, Toro has partnered with the NFL in providing equipment to prepare the game field and multiple practice fields leading up to the biggest football game of the year. In 2003, Toro and the NFL established the Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Developed to recognize one student who has shown exemplary skill in turfgrass management, the program encourages emerging professionals to further grow their knowledge base by assisting the grounds crew for a high-profile game, Toro says in a news release. Heitshusen will work alongside NFL field director Ed Mangan, George Toma and the Super Bowl grounds crew at Levi’s Stadium on turfgrass maintenance, logo painting, field preparation for media day, halftime preparation and field clean-up.
“To be honest, my initial reaction upon learning that I was selected for the program was pure shock,” Heitshusen says. “Having the chance to work alongside some of the most outstanding turfgrass care professionals in the world is a great honor, and I’m absolutely thrilled and humbled that I have the opportunity to be on site for Super Bowl 50.”
Heitshusen is scheduled to graduate from Iowa State University in May of 2017 and has been instrumental as part of the grounds crew at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa — the home of Cyclone football. As part of an internship at Michigan State University, Heitshusen was part of the team responsible for designing and installing a heated ribbon system on MSU’s baseball and softball fields — the first outside heated infields at a college facility in the U.S.
To be considered for the program, entrants had to undergo a comprehensive application process. Thanks to her remarkable experience and her ambition to pursue a career in turfgrass management, Heitshusen was selected from a large pool of talented candidates, Toro says. Applicants must be enrolled in at least the second year of a two-year turfgrass program, or in at least the junior year of a four-year turfgrass program. The application must include the signature of a school advisor or representative, as well.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for young turfgrass professionals,” says Dale Getz, CSFM, sports fields and grounds sales manager at Toro. “Toro’s partnership with the NFL continues to provide great exposure for emerging professionals in the turfgrass industry, and continues to provide opportunities to further develop their skills.”
This is the 14th year that Toro and the NFL have provided this opportunity for students in the field of turfgrass management.