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Greencastle man's daughter handles Penn State fields

August 04, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- Linebackers are hard on grass.

So are pitchers, quarterbacks, pinch hitters, wide receivers, and the rest of the baseball and football teams, Sara Camuso has learned.

Camuso, 22, helps to maintain the fields at Beaver Stadium and the home field of the Spikes minor league team in State College, Pa. She graduated from Penn State University in May with a bachelor's degree in turfgrass science.

Her work with specialty grasses started at age 16 when she began working with her father at Scottish Heights Golf Club in Rockport, Pa.

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"He kind of just taught me stuff along the way. For me, at the time, it was just a summer job," Camuso said.

Camuso's fascination with the groundswork grew and she worked on golf courses for five years. In that time, she also enrolled in Penn State's program, which she said is one of only a few dozen of its kind across the country.

Eventually her father, Frank Camuso, left the course superintendent's position at Scottish Heights to oversee a course in Urbana, Md., moving the family to southern Franklin County. They now live on South Washington Street in Greencastle, a town Sara Camuso enjoys visiting from State College.

"The climate is a lot different. It's not as gray and rainy," Camuso said.

Her first stop when visiting is most often at the Nearly New Shop, she said.

Free time, though, lessens this time of year for Camuso, who works game days for the two facilities. If the tarp is covering the field, Camuso and her colleagues arrive for work at 7 a.m. and often leave after 11 p.m.

The first tasks for the day at the baseball field typically involve fixing the mounds and home plate. The infield receives care, then crews set up for batting practice. They drag the field and patch it.

Camuso runs the foul line, paying special attention to the edge of bases.

"It's got to be completely straight, and it takes some finagling," Camuso said.

She said a lot of people would be surprised to learn how physically demanding it can be to repair the clay pitchers mounds after the players dig into them with cleats. Camuso and colleagues try to wrap up before any opening events.

"We're usually off the field 10 minutes before the game," she said.

Crews drag the infield with steel mats after the third and sixth innings. Throughout the season, they always pay special attention to the different needs for moisture in the infield and outfield.

Some of Camuso's favorite areas of study in college were turfgrass diseases, general plant biology and horticulture, and bugs and insects. She hopes to soon become an assistant at a ballpark and possibly work at a professional football stadium.

Camuso has enjoyed trying new things in her studies and career, switching from golf course management to turfgrass midway through her degree program.

"I wanted to try something different. I've always been an athletic person and loved being around sports, especially around baseball," Camuso said.

General maintenance practices for golf courses and sports fields are the same, Camuso said, but they each have special needs. Those needs have led to some good-natured ribbing between her and her father.

"He doesn't have 300-pound men pushing against each other on his golf course," Camuso said.

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