By Kevin O’Rourke
Germantown is host to the best soccer field in the world – officially.
The Maryland SoccerPlex, here in Germantown, has earned "Field of the Year Award" honors from the Sports Turf Managers Association, the professional association of 2,600 men and women who manage sports fields worldwide.
The award has been given for the superb quality of the playing surface at Maureen Hendricks Field, the SoccerPlex's showcase stadium and the home of the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League. It also hosts many other youth, college and professional soccer matches annually, with D.C. United, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the University of Maryland having hosted events in recent years.
The Sports Turf Managers Association ranks Maureen Hendricks Field as the top playing surface among eligible professional soccer venues, an honor previously bestowed on world-class facilities like Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado and Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
"It's great to see the passion and dedication of our grounds crew recognized with such a tremendous honor," said SoccerPlex Director of Grounds Ryan Bjorn. "I'm extremely proud to be a part of such a hardworking and passionate group of people that makes up the SoccerPlex grounds team."
This year's honor marks the second time the SoccerPlex has won an STMA award, with the showcase stadium earning a 2011 "Field of the Year" award for soccer in the "Schools and Parks" category.
"The Field of the Year Award is a testament to the personal and professional contributions by a select group of sports turf industry leaders," said Kim Heck, CEO of Sports Turf Managers Association. "The process of selecting winners each year becomes more difficult as the candidate pool grows and the industry continues to progress with innovative technologies, state-of-the-art equipment and best practices."
The Sports Turf Managers Associtiaon is a not-for-profit professional association for men and women who manage sports fields worldwide. Since 1981, the association and its 34 local chapters have been providing education, information and sharing practical knowledge in the art and science of sports field management. Its more than 2,600 members oversee sports fields and facilities at schools, colleges and universities, parks and recreational facilities and professional sports stadiums.
A panel of 11 judges independently scored entries based on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program. Judges may not award a field in each category. Winning fields will be featured in a 2015 issue of Sports Turf Magazine, while the awards will be presented at the 26th STMA Conference & Exhibition in Denver, Colo. Jan. 13-16, 2015.