Grounds Supervisor Galen Davidson runs a crew of four to maintain 185 acres of land, including 12 acres of athletic fields, for Burnet Consolidated Independent School District. It’s a job that has scored him statewide recognition. The district’s baseball and softball fields were named the best in the state by Texas Multi-Chem, a sports turf company. He received the company’s TMC Sports Turf “MVP” Award in 2013 and 2011.
Bulldog Diamonds, home of the Burnet High School baseball and softball fields, is where Davidson really shines. He creates the designs on the outfield and in front of the pitcher’s mound that sport the athletic department’s logo and jersey numbers of senior players — all hand drawn. That takes dedication and commitment to achieve, said BCISD Athletics Director Kurt Jones.
“It’s great, it’s fantastic having a facility like Bulldog Diamonds,” he said. “You can take pride in it. Your facilities go hand in hand with everything in your athletic department. If you give (students) a first-class facility and first-class uniforms, they’re usually going to respond because it’s important.”
Davidson and crew make it their business to provide that first-class experience on all the district’s grounds. Their work goes beyond lawn mowers, field marking paints, and edgers. During football season, they help with traffic and crowd control and ensure all parts of the stadium — including the sound and lighting systems and scoreboard — are properly working. They are the crew you look for when you drop something under the bleachers. The grounds crew at BCISD lets nothing slip between the cracks.
Here is what Davidson said about his job for the school district and the athletes he serves.
The grass at the athletic fields are seven-eighth of an inch tall. We’ve maintained them at that height pretty much since I’ve been here. If the grass is taller, the ball rolls slower, and, usually, you can’t run as fast. The numbers on the field are hand drawn. It’s special to see those numbers. Parents have come up to me crying. We maintain them for the entire baseball and softball seasons. I’ve played on fields where there are lips on the infield. That sends that ball up like that and faces get busted. I’ve seen it. I like them to be in the best possible shape they can be when kids are playing on them.
Our field turf has a grass look. We have a machine that hooks onto a trailer. It’s a sweeper to pick up loose debris. It drags across the turf, stands up the turf, and levels the pellets. It gets stuff kids lose like barrettes, helmet buckles, trash, and it cleans off the top of the field. The day before, we drag, and it will take the static electricity out. It takes three to five hours, so we do it first thing in the morning.
Mondays are cleanup. We mow (around the high school football field) on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, we try to make everything look as good as it can. We test the sound system every Friday. Spectrum checks the scoreboard and the clocks. Everything is done on Friday morning: We clean the bathrooms, make sure the scoreboard is working, the lights are working, the 25-second clock. We want everything to look good and perform well. We definitely want the players and the fans to have the best experience.
I’ve done this for 23 years. I started with the city of Burnet to help build the four fields at the YMCA (of the Highland Lakes). This job opened up in 2004. It’s therapeutic. I like to maintain grass and play in the water sprinklers. I like to do this for kids and make sure they play on safe fields. The first time we developed something fancy, every one of them came to me and said, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done.’ Grant Martin (a 2011 graduate and baseball player) said, ‘If you do that to our field, we won’t lose on this one.’ Boerne Champion was their only home loss that year. Day by day, we want to make something special for them.
Soon after Bulldog Diamonds opened, I was picking up trash and the opposing team was looking at the field. I heard them say, ‘We’ve never seen a field that looks like this. It has designs. Guys here take their baseball seriously.’