HGTC grad is the man behind the Pelicans playing field

An HGTC graduate is using his STEM education to fulfill his lifelong dream.

Many of you have spent a night or two rooting on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but most people don't think about what it takes to get the field ready for the "Birds" to play ball.

An HGTC graduate is using his STEM education to fulfill his lifelong dream.

The heat is on this summer for Tradd Jones, 28, from Greenville.

This is his first full season as the Head Sports Turf Manager for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. "This was the ultimate goal to be where I am at right now," Jones told us.

Jones is the man behind the baseball field.

"He overseas all the aspects of the field. Everything from our spraying program to herbicides, dirt care, dirt upkeep, keeping the mound and plate in good shape and he also deals with moisture control on the infield," said Mike Snow, Assistant General Manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Aesthetically the diamond and field have to look great before every game, but playability is even more important.

"It is a lot of edge work, stuff to keep bad hops to a minimum. It can have nothing to do with our play, but if an injury pops up the first thing we think of is, how did that happen and where did that happen?" said Jones.

Jones also has to keep his eyes on our unpredictable weather to get the stadium game-ready. "We watch the radar more than we do a television screen. Something can come up at any given time."

Even though this is his first season in charge, he's no rookie to field.

Tradd spent two years interning with the Pelicans grounds crew. He said, "That helped more than anything - being out here all day every day throughout the whole baseball season."

While interning, Jones earned his Associate's Degree in Golf and Sports Turf Management at Horry Georgetown Technical College.

The HGTC Associate's Degree program is the only one in the state.

"We've got 90 golf courses in the area. We've got here with the Pelicans, CCU, North Myrtle Beach and the Market Common. There is not a better area in the country for a student to get to come here, work 12 months out of the year, two years while they are in school and have outstanding training with our partnerships we have with HGTC and the local community," HGTC Professor Charles Granger told us.

Jones credits his professors like Granger with teaching him what he needs to know about the science of grass and botany.

"Not only does he have the on-the-field knowledge, but he also has the science knowledge, which is really important too when you're dealing with the grass," said Snow with the Pelicans.

"It is exciting to see a recent graduate stay here locally, It is just extremely rewarding for us to be able to see him grow," Granger told us.

For Tradd, working in baseball has been a lifelong dream. Now, he's just getting started.

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