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School Ryan McGillivray (2011)
As a child it's always been a dream of mine to manage a professional athletic field. At the age of 10, while other kids were catching fly balls and running the bases, I was mowing the grass and raking the infield of the local ball fields.
After my graduation from middle school my parents flew me to an athletic field maintenance academy in South Carolina for a week to learn and work along side many professional field managers. From there, I brought back my newest artistic talent of painting vibrant logos and designs to my high school athletic fields. Following my first semester in high school I was hired by the school landscape contractor to help oversee the high school athletic fields.
At the end of my summer entering junior year in high school tragedy struck and my supervisor/new best friend died in a boating accident. The entire school united around me as I was in complete shock and totally devastated. This man taught me how to work my hardest and push the limit by living life to the fullest, to embrace new challenges, and never give up on your dreams. And to this day I follow that rule.
I eventually left that position to become the assistant groundskeeper at the Lowell Spinners, Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, at the age of 16. Due to a limited staff, I had to learn most of what it takes to maintain a professional baseball field on my own. But it all pays off when you walk to concourse during a game and hear fans in the crowd complimenting the field and knowing I had a key part in that. Along with working at the Spinners I also work at Gillette Stadium as a member of the field crew. Being able to learn the world of synthetic turf surfaces and also dealing with the harsh New England during the season weather was not only challenging but also extremely exhilarating.
This summer I will be leaving the Lowell Spinners to join the Staten Island Yankees, Class A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, working for Brickman Sports Turf Services. Being die-hard Red Sox fan working for the Yankees will be a little tough especially having to wear Yankees gear 24/7 but I feel it will be a great experience for me working in New York and for such an enormous organization such as the Yankees. I certainly owe a lot to UMass Amherst in particular Stockbridge School of Agriculture for providing me the best education I could get in this industry. Even though it has only been a semester, I have learned a significant amount of knowledge about the turfgrass world.
This January I was flown down to Orlando, Fl by the Sports Turf Managers Association to receive one of the most prestigious scholarship awards in the sports turf industry, the Dr. Fred Greu Award. I'd like to thank my professors who have such a passion for this trade and advisor Scott Ebdon for recommending me and all of the Stockbridge community for being a part of it. I am very thankful to be studying at UMass Amherst and will continue to groom my career one field at a time.