Meet Jimmy Simpson – Cary’s Turf Grass Guy


Cary, NC — Recently, we learned that Jimmy Simpson, Town of Cary’s Certified Sports Field Manager, was elected At-Large Director for the Sports Turf Managers Association. We started wondering, what does a turf grass guy do?

Sports Turf Managers Association

The Sports Turf Managers Association, or STMA, contains 2,600 members worldwide. Of those includes Jimmy Simpson, Cary resident and town employee, who was just elected into the organization’s 2015 Board of Directors.

STMA is a not-for-profit professional organization that oversees sports fields and facilities at schools, colleges, universities, parks, recreational facilities, and professional sports stadiums. Since 1981, the association and its 34 local chapters have provided organization and shared knowledge in the art and science of sports field management.

Jimmy Simpson

Jimmy Simpson, a North Carolina native, has lived in Cary and has been a member of town staff for nine years now. He currently serves as the town’s Facility Work Expediter and works “all over the board of facility management.” Some of the buildings and fields he oversees include the USA Baseball National Training Complex, Thomas Brooks Park, WakeMed Soccer Park, Mills Park Middle School, and the fields at the Middle Creek Park.

Simpson explains that:

Our team is responsible for the maintenance on everything from the front gate to the back exit, the light towers to the floors in the buildings, and everything in between, including participating in Town wide storm response.

In fact, my interview with Simpson was postponed because he was an integral part of the “snow team” that was called to action last week during our winter weather conditions.

What’s a Sports Field Manager?

In February of 2008, Simpson became a Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) in February 2008 to “bring legitimacy and professionalism to the care and maintenance of athletic surfaces that many Town citizens utilize every day.” He went on to say:

I wanted our citizens to be able to trust that when they stepped onto a Town athletic surface it was safe for their use and know it was prepared by a team of caring professionals. When I became certified, I was one of the first 100 CSFMs in the country. The Town currently employs three Certified Sports Field Managers, which really shows the organization’s commitment to safe playing surfaces for our citizens.

Q&A with Jimmy Simpson

Simpson was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about sports turf management in Cary.

Q: What does Sports Turf work involve, exactly?

A: Sports Turf is a growing industry in the U.S. and around the world. The industry’s main focus is to provide a safe and playable surface for sports or recreational activities to take place. The industry is not focused solely on natural playing surfaces; we also focus and provide maintenance to many of the synthetic surfaces that are played upon.

One of the most interesting things about this industry, to me, is the amount of passion and commitment that each turf manager dedicates to his or her work daily to ensure the safety of playing surfaces all over this great country and the world.

Q: What does your new role as a Sports Turf director entail?

A: Some of the duties include leading or being the board liaison to one or more committees, participating at the national conference by moderating sessions, and attending educational and conference events.

I am really looking forward to my new role with the national association. I was a founding member of the North Carolina chapter of the STMA and have held all the chapter office positions. I have always enjoyed helping others with their fields, and the NC chapter provided me that opportunity many times over.

I have cherished the many professional development opportunities, and I look forward to my new expanded mission with the national STMA Board of Directors. This board appointment will allow me to focus on expanding the association’s area of influence as well as helping to provide guidance and ensure the association stays mission-centric along with providing fiduciary oversight.

Q: What work will you do here in Cary in this role?

A: As for work with the Board here in Cary and surrounding areas, my primary responsibility will be getting the word out about our association. I will provide presentations or training to others who work in and around sports fields of any kind, as our national association’s mission is to advance professionalism in sports field management and safety through education, awareness programs, and industry development.

Also while on the Board, I will still serve on the past presidents committee with the NC STMA Chapter, and I’m also responsible for a joint North Carolina/South Carolina STMA scholarship golf event that provides scholarships to students in turf programs.

Q: Will you travel in this position?

A: Yes, I will travel to quarterly board meetings and the association’s national annual conference. The 13-member board of directors will meet in four face-to-face meetings this year.

Q: Tell me something interesting about Sports Turf.

A: I will provide the answer to the question that I get asked the most when I tell people what I do for a living, which is: How do we get those stripes in the grass on the fields?

The striping effect occurs when we mow the turf in certain directions. Our mowers have rollers on them, and once the turf has been cut by the unit, the roller will then roll the blade of grass in a certain direction.

The light colored stripes occur when the mowers are going away from you, and you get to see the entire blade of grass. The dark colored stripes happen when the mowers are coming towards you, and you are only seeing the tips of the grass blade. It is true that some turf managers will also broom or sweep the grass in certain directions to make a team logo or picture appear in the grass on their fields.


Interview by Jessica Patrick. 

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