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News from the American Sports Builders Association                                                       January 2020

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Technical Meeting Session Reviews

Those who went to the 2019 Technical Meeting in Orlando already know this. For those who didn’t go, though, here’s what you missed: excellent programming. With sessions for each segment of the industry (tennis, track, courts and rec, and fields, as well as informative business content), the meeting was an education in itself. Here is a quick synopsis of just a few sessions:

Best Maintenance Practices for Mixed Surface Playing Fields
Jason DeMink, CSFM, Sports Turf Specialist, University of Michigan Athletics

DeMink, who is head groundskeeper for University of Michigan Baseball and Softball, brought a presentation filled with real-life examples from the ballfields in his care. His presentation covered key topics. The first was the removal of clay from synthetic turf fields, something DeMink dryly called “the evil of all evils.”

Multiple options for clay removal were addressed; these included vacuuming, raking, power washing and hosing, sweeping and using a powerful blower. Ultimately, DeMink noted, there was no one correct way to remove clay from turf; the most effective solution will depend upon the level of infiltration(in other words, how deeply the clay has been allowed to filter down into the turf), how long the problem has been going on and how far across the surface clay has been spread, as well as the equipment available. For example, a turf-specific vacuum is recommended, as is a powerful blower.

Ultimately, DeMink noted, it is incumbent upon the installer to make sure the field manager is aware of the need to check the turf on a regular basis (at the very least, after each practice or game) and to address problems with clay infiltration (as well as any materials that have found their way into the turf) immediately.

Additionally, DeMink discussed high-wear areas on sports fields, noting that heavy use of the university’s fields in almost every season (except when the fields were covered with snow), has led to certain areas showing their age first. These included first and second base, the shortstop area and specific areas of the outfield. All sports have a distinct wear pattern; in lacrosse fields, for example, the area near the crease becomes worn first.

DeMink used images of his own fields, showing various patches that had been applied through the years, and noting that in some cases, several steps are necessary in order to create a successful finished product.

One of the problems for Michigan turf, DeMink added, was the fact that snow needed to be cleared from fields so that the teams could them. His tips for best practices were to clear the infield first, and then to move to the outfield. It is not uncommon for plows to damage the turf and unfortunately, in many cases, repairs (or stopgap repairs, at any rate) needed to be made in minutes, so that the fields could be used.

Myths & Truths of Volleyball
John Kessel, Director of Sport Development, USA Volleyball

Volleyball continues to be one of the most popular sports at the youth, collegiate and adult rec level, and has long been a successful program for the U.S. in international competition. And while historically, it has been popular among girls (the age 10-18 female demographic is almost 75% of USA Volleyball’s membership), it is gaining strength as a boys’ sport as well.

Disciplines include Indoor, Beach, Seated (used as the Paralympic version of the sport, with divisions for adult and youth), Snow (something that has gained popularity in recent years) as well as Para-Beach Volleyball (different from seated volleyball). Fun fact: seated volleyball can be taught in P.E. class, and can be a fun recreational game among able-bodied students as well.

Grass volleyball, played recreationally and at the tournament level, is not governed by USA Volleyball, but it does keep participation statistics on it. Concrete and dirt courts also exist for urban and recreational play.

In addition, Kessel discussed options for nets to be created in multiple settings for recreational or tournament use (on beaches, open field areas, tennis courts and other areas), as well as how to cordon off courts to keep players and spectators separate.

Kessel reviewed the variations of the game, some of which are familiar to the public (co-ed and foot volleyball) as well as some that might not be as commonly heard of (Sepak Takraw, spikeball and table tennis volleyball).

One of USA Volleyball’s concerns continues to be safety in the game, and particularly in the tournament arena. Kessel reviewed court dimensions and noted some of the more surprising hazards (water bottles placed too close to the edges of the court, and unseen by players until they trip on them) and unsurprising (parents crowding too close to the court and trying to take pictures, impeding play). Because in volleyball, players are looking up constantly, they are unable to see what is around their feet, or who is behind them; therefore, Kessel noted, it is imperative to keep the playing areas clear of spectators, equipment or anything else that might cause injuries.

Not all buildings are suitable for use in volleyball, Kessel noted. Some buildings have low ceilings or lights that hang too far down and can come in contact with the ball. Additionally, if buildings are too small for the number of courts set up, courts will be too close together (or too close to the side walls of the building) and will present a safety hazard. Lines that already exist on the floor may not allow for players to delineate court space, and pre-existing facilities, such as basketball nets and hoops, may pose problems. (Although not many buildings in the recreational or youth tournament space are purpose-built for volleyball, it is still necessary to find accommodations that will keep players safe on the court).

Post-Tensioned Concrete/Moisture Mitigation: Frost vs. Warm Areas, Mat Systems, Surfacing and Resurfacing
Jonnie Deremo, CTB, CTCB, General Acrylics, Inc.; Tim Gerrits, LLA, LEED AP, GMB Architecture + Engineering; Travis Vruggink, PE, GMB Architecture + Engineering

The presentation opened with a discussion of post-tensioned tennis courts, including a review of how they are built (including the anchor and stressing components) and a discussion of their merits (unlike asphalt, they will not crack and are far better at withstanding the freeze/thaw cycle). Post-tensioned courts have an excellent lifespan and lend themselves to a good playing experience, since the court can be customized with various coatings to suit the player population, such as those who enjoy a more cushioned surface.

For all of this to happen, however, the basic construction of the court needs to follow a precise plan. The speakers discussed best practices in construction, such as inspections done on the site and the cables prior to pouring the concrete. What was critical, they noted, was to troubleshoot and remove moisture from the concrete. If moisture is allowed to stay in the slab, it can cause myriad problems, including a lack of bonding that leads to blistering, bubbling and delamination of the surface; discoloration of any coatings used; and (worst-case scenario) damage to the concrete slab and the post-tension cables.

Some tests for moisture that builders can use are (from least to most reliable) are a simple visual inspection, a plastic sheet test (ASTM D-4263), calcium chloride test (ASTM F-1869) or in situ probes to determine relative humidity (ASTM F-2170).

Additionally, it is not enough to make sure water is removed from the slab; it is essential to find out how it got there in the first place. Some common culprits are water lines that in proximity to the court, as well as nearby water sources or groundwater that might be seeping in.

Two mitigation techniques were discussed: Topically applied modified Sodium Silicate water proofing, and topically applied two-component moisture tolerant epoxy primer/sealer. While the former was seen as having more advantages (and few, if any disadvantages), the epoxy primer/sealer is worth studying. (However, the presenters noted, it has the potential for water to remain in the slab, and it needs to be used in the correct weather conditions.)

Since it is possible that even with mitigation, moisture issues will resurface (or that a builder may be called in to look at existing courts with problems), the speakers studied how to address the issues. In addition to finding and addressing the source of the water (and mitigating the existing moisture), it is essential to remove court coatings (diamond grinding, shot blasting and water blasting were among the methods discussed). Mat systems, in conjunction with post-tensioned courts, were also discussed.

Track Striping: A Question and Answer Session
Noel Gilstrap, Beynon Sports Surfaces; Ryan Pierce, New England Track and Field Striping; Rick Hardin, Dynamic Sports Construction, Moderator

Track striping is one of the more misunderstood disciplines in the sports facility construction industry. Measuring, marking and striping tracks is a science and requires not only skill but knowledge of facilities as a whole.

The presenters noted that it is important for track builders, as well as owners, to carefully vet any professional who is being considered for this key assignment. Owners and contractors should be prepared to ask any candidates about their previous experience, as well as their training, whether they are licensed and insured and – in this day and age, whether they and any crew they will bring with them can pass a background check in order to work on a project where youth will be present.

The session included a review of the equipment every striper should be familiar with. For example, a potential striper will understand the latest technology; he or she should know that a machine may be classified as an air machine or an airless one (and be able to work with either). In addition, he or she should understand the differences between a theodolite and a total station.

Presenters also explained methods for striping, as well as types of line paint and the various striping plans. Key questions included whether a drawing was required, whether all states run the same events, whether there was a standard plan for each state and others. A person hiring a striper should be prepared to find a professional who uses certified calculations (and should understand what those are).

The session lived up to its Q&A title, asking participants to help come up with the answers to questions including whether an onsite meeting should be held prior to setup (and who should attend), how to handle coaches or athletic directors who asked for additional striping, and the timing for how long a striping job should take, how long after striping until a track can be used, and whether the field can be used while striping is going on.

A skilled and knowledgeable striper with experience will be able to answer questions, including ways the new 30-meter exchange zone rule will affect existing tracks, differences between striping for high school and college facilities (and whether athletes at each level can run on one another’s tracks), as well as whether a track needs to be recertified after being restriped.

Side note: ASBA has heard horror stories from colleges and high schools who allowed unskilled individuals to stripe tracks, leading to an inability for any performances to be counted as records, as well as (probably more importantly) expensive repair work becoming necessary. Hiring a qualified and knowledgeable striper will be a decision that nobody will regret.

In addition to its sessions addressing its four membership division (fields, courts & rec, track and tennis), the ASBA offered the following programs, addressing general business information, marketing and other content:

GROWing Talent Within Your Organization; Jeff McManus, University of Mississippi

Social Media – Facebook Basics (Internet Marketing); Mike Gelfgot, Anytime Fitness

Social Media – LinkedIn (Internet Marketing); Mike Gelfgot, Anytime Fitness

Why You Should Consider Construction-Specific Software; John Meibers, ComputerEase

If you weren’t present for ASBA’s Technical Meeting in December, it’s easy to see you missed a lot! Make sure you mark you calendar for next year, December 4-8, 2020, in San Antonio, Texas.

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