Brynn South’s major league goals for turf management | New

Athens softball star Brynn South has big league dreams. When she steps on the diamond in the future, it won’t be to play. She wants to be one of the head groundskeepers at an MLB park. As a woman in the turf management industry, she has a few role models at this level. However, they are rare. The Orioles’ head gardener, Nicole Sherry, gives South some advice: don’t give up.

“It’s not easy to get a job in Major League Baseball, but they’re there, ready to accept with open arms anyone who wants to study this type of job and has a passion for the game itself,” said she declared. “(Brynn) is a state softball champion, so she already knows dedication and loyalty. There is no doubt about it. If it’s something she wants to pursue, I’d say continue no matter what.

Sherry is just one of two women to become director of field operations at the Major League level, a feat that South admires her for her perseverance.

“She’s a huge inspiration showing that girls can do it too,” South said.

Sherry says South and all women should stay open to new possibilities when considering a career in turf management.

“She really just needs to be ready to seize the opportunities, to take a chance. (The job) may not be available in Alabama. It may not be available in Maryland. Work might be available in Colorado or Seattle. You can do it; you can definitely take this chance to get out of your comfort zone. This will lead to great things in the future.

South says it wasn’t easy being a girl in Athens High’s turf management class. But despite some teasing, she chose to pursue her newfound passion, with the encouragement of baseball head coach and turf management class teacher Chuck Smith.

“I took the turf management course in school and realized ‘oh, I love that,'” South said. “No one treated me differently, but (Coach Smith) held me to a high standard.”

As a woman joining a male-dominated field, teasing is something Sherry has experienced herself, but she assures South that there are people who support her too.

“I’ve been through everything she’s probably been through, but there are so many people out there who want to see you succeed, who understand and are truly behind you 100%. So whatever obstacles she faces, keep crossing.

The grass class caught the eye of Sherry, who says she follows the Athens grass class on Facebook and Twitter.

Smith, who started the class at AHS, said South was one of the main people in the class with a keen interest in the ins and outs of turf management.

“I really believe she found her passion being in the classroom for the last school year,” Smith said. “She was always the one who wanted to learn more and do more in class.”

One person who saw this potential in the South is Rocket City Trash Pandas Toyota Field head guard Charlie Weaver. South was a member of the Trash Pandas’ field team during their 2022 season, making an impression on Weaver.

“Brynn is very passionate about groundskeeping and her drive and energy will take her as far as she wants in the world of groundskeeping. We are very lucky to have Brynn on our team,” said said Weaver.

South and Sherry found their love for turf management congruent with their love of softball. The combination resulted in a long career for Sherry and the beginning stages of a dream for South.

South was part of the Athens High School Lady Golden Eagles softball team that won the championship near the end of May.

“The reality for this is not really established yet. We worked so hard for this and took “State Championship Rep” seriously (during the offseason and during practices). The seniors had been working there for a while,” South said.

Softball gave him the opportunity to show his character and leadership abilities, which head coach Travis Barnes says he certainly noticed.

“Brynn was proud of our softball field at Athens High. She has a great personality and would be perfect for a yard maintenance job. Her attention to detail will stand her in good stead as she continues her career as a Major League yarder. I see her deploying a maximum of effort to reach this level!

Softball also offers her the opportunity to get a head start on her education as she will be attending Motlow State University for the sport.

However, after her two years, she plans to go to Tennessee Tech or Mississippi State, both of which are known to have agricultural programs, which will help her reach the major leagues for turf management.

Sherry said an agriculture degree would be just as valuable as a turf management degree in South’s pursuit of her goals. There are other areas that could also be useful, such as meteorology to help in certain weather situations.

Sherry’s career began with her dream of working at Camden Yards after a visit while pursuing an agriculture degree from Delaware Tech, according to Baltimore Magazine. His final year as an intern with the Orioles was Cal Ripken Jr.’s final season with the team.

“When I started there, I didn’t realize there weren’t many women until I got into baseball and realized there were only 30 jobs. and another woman who holds that position, which is Heather Nabozny with the Detroit Tigers. I remember doing my internship and then finally getting an assistant position with the Orioles, and I thought to myself: “I really want to do this as a career. So I worked hard, went into the minor leagues for a bit, and in 2006 the Orioles hired me as head gardener. A little guts and grind, and I here it is, 17 years later.

This career was inspired by realizing the potential of a love of softball, baseball, and maintaining beautiful ballparks, which is how South is currently inspired.

South took the next step towards realizing her dreams when she was selected as one of the field team members for the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina, which will take take place in mid-August.

She will be one of 13 women on the field team and hopes to meet other leading women and men in the turf management profession.

South says she is “interested in learning from others” who are in the field and was “shocked to learn” of her inclusion on the field team and being honored for her selection.

Leah Withrow, head guard for the Minor League Reno Aces, is another woman who has risen in the turf management profession. According to LinkedIn, Withrow majored in sports turf management at North Dakota State University.

Withrow will be making an appearance at the Little League Softball World Series, and South is looking forward to meeting her, as she is another role model for her. Sherry said she would love to be able to go to the LLSWS and meet South, but won’t be able to attend the first softball event due to an Orioles home stand on the same dates.

Now South hopes to inspire other women like Sherry and Withrow have motivated her.

“I want to show other girls, ‘That could be me,'” South said.

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