When they were young, Sarah Martin and Heather Nabozny both loved being outside, and they never outgrew their love for sunshine, grass and dirt. When doors opened for both into the world of sport turf management, Martin and Nabozny realized their good fortune in finding the ideal career path.
Martin is the turf manager for a sprawling city-owned sports complex in Phoenix and the president of the Sports Turf Management Association. Nabozny is the head groundskeeper for the Detroit Tigers. Both have ascended in a field dominated by men without giving too much thought to their roles as pioneers. They have earned respect nationwide in turf management through hard work and steadfast commitment to the fields under their care.
“I’m somebody who truly believes that if it’s something you want to do and something you’re passionate about, it doesn’t matter male or female, you’re going to go far,” says Martin, who has also worked in minor league baseball and the Milwaukee Brewers spring training site in Phoenix.
Today, in her role overseeing the grounds for the Reach 11 Sports Complex, Martin manages a staff of six tasked with maintaining 18 soccer fields, four baseball fields and more than 20 miles of natural trails.
In January, she was named president of the STMA, a role that allows her to help promote turf management nationwide and give back to the network of people that has encouraged her along the way. She originally joined STMA when she was 19, pursuing a degree in landscape horticulture and turfgrass management at Colorado State.
“I’ve been in the STMA longer than I haven’t at this point in my life,” she said. “It’s really an honor, and it’s kind of surreal to have gone through the organization like that. It’s done a lot for me as far as confidence and knowledge and being able to speak in front of large groups of people.”