SAFE’s research initiative

The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE) is executing its second cycle of funding for research projects. Due to a generous donation from the North Carolina SFMA, SAFE has met its goal of accumulating $30,000 in its research fund to award to one or more deserving recipients later this year. 

Research that can be funded through SAFE must benefit the sports field management industry in the following area: 

Field performance as it relates to the safety of the playing surface for athletes.

SAFE began funding research with a pilot grant of $2,500 in late summer of 2018 for a study to determine if there is a correlation between management practices and field safety. Three universities participated: Texas Tech University, Iowa State University and the University of Tennessee at Martin. 

In late 2019, SAFE awarded nearly $20,000 to two projects that will be completed this year:

1) Penn State University’s novel methods for testing baseball infield soil. This study seeks to understand the safety of an infield mix by its performance as its water content changes. The project will develop lab methods to measure the “cleat-in, cleat-out” effect, as well as shear strength under wet playing conditions.

2) Joint project by the University of Tennessee and Iowa State University to evaluate turfgrass mowing height and lower leg forces. The objective of this study is to determine how athletes are impacted by different mowing heights and its impact on athletic field performance.

The SAFE Research Grant process is now open. The application has three components: Executive Summary, Plan Methodology and Budget. The fillable PDF can be found on-line at SFMA.org. The deadline for submittal is Oct. 31, and the award(s) will be announced on Dec. 8.  

To help SAFE sustain its field safety research funding, it has hired a consulting firm, Hartsook, to develop a fundraising plan. The first phase of the plan, a pre-campaign study, will be delivered in August. SAFE’s current fundraising takes place primarily at the SFMA conference with a golf tournament, bowling event, live and silent auctions and a raffle. SFMA members can also donate to SAFE when they renew their membership.

In addition to funding research, SAFE annually awards $21,000 in scholarships, $2,000 in grants and $10,000 to the winners of the Student Challenge, which is conducted during the SFMA conference. 

The board of trustees ensures that the Foundation stays true to its mission of enriching communities through championing safe, sustainable sports and recreation fields for all athletes. Board members include Chad Price, CSFM, CFB, Chair; Matt Anderson, CSFM; Mike Andresen, CSFM; James Bergdoll, CSFM; Scott Bills, CSFM; Marcus Dean, CSFM; Jeff Fowler; Nick McKenna, CSFM; Craig Potts, CSFM; John Sorochan, Ph.D.; Vickie Wallace; and permanent member of the board, Kim Heck, CAE, Executive Director.