Throughout preseason football camp, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Rachel Perreault will take you on a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of the football program that go beyond the practice field. In today’s ninth installment, she checks in with the hard-working grounds crew, led by Casey Underwood.
With their offices located in the depths of the South End Zone of Lane Stadium, Director of Outside Facilities Casey Underwood and his staff are rarely seen by most, but are always hard at work. Basking in the anonymity their job carries, the facilities staff doesn’t mind the mystery that comes with their job title. The majority of their work is done behind the scenes, prepping for not only football season but all kinds of events as well
Most people never consider who opens the stadium upwards of six hours before kickoff, nor do they notice how good not only the flowers, mulch and grass look but also the windows and walls of Lane Stadium look when they are snapping a photo pregame. Worsham Field doesn’t paint itself, nor do the field goal posts stay up all year. Who puts all the signs and roping up in the parking lots fans tailgate in? The clean carpets, well-kept suites, safe stands and bright burning lights on game day are all courtesy of Underwood and small army of about 18 full-timers and three more students. And this is all just for football
The things we all take for granted on game day are what make the facilities staff tick. Underwood has been doing the same job at Tech since he graduated in the late 90s. Back then there were only four people in the office, which made for an unimaginable work week. Responsible for so much more than just Lane Stadium, the facilities staff doesn’t see much down time.
Preparing Thompson Field for soccer and then rolling into indoor track come December, just to turn around and prep for lacrosse, baseball and softball, free time is hard to find. On top of maintaining all of the fields and facilities Underwood and his staff are responsible for clean up and maintenance before an after such events as the Welcome Back Picnic, Hokie Camp and anything on any of the fields or nearby lots.
With these things going on in and around Lane Stadium during the preseason, as well as two open scrimmages and one closed scrimmage, timing is everything for the facilities staff. The month of August is when the staff begins to buckle down again. Stern about time off in August, Underwood and his staff have to begin getting ready for the season. While things like meeting fire code, bleacher inspection and bringing in plumbers are all crammed in during August, timing is everything when it comes to field prep, cleaning the suites and concourses, power washing every seat in the stadium and washing the windows outside the stadium.
Once the season starts, all the prep has paid off. Though the work is never done, it’s all about maintaining at that point. The staff arrives six hours prior to kickoff to open up the stadium and have it ready for when the doors open. On-call once the gates open, game day is pretty easy for Underwood and his 20-man game day crew. Some members will leave at halftime to pick up signs and ropes from parking lots, half of them will return by the end of the game put begin cleaning up the field for a few hours before heading home.
With no desire for a desk job, Underwood, like his staff, appreciates the variety of the job they do. Getting bored even just mowing the fields for a couple hours, he prefers to take one of a multitude of smaller tasks to keep him busy. Though no two days are the same, the experience Underwood has is what has helped him learn how to attack everything that could be thrown his way, and also manage all the running around.
Although his office is the last place to look for him, Underwood and his staff work unconventionally and would have it no other way. Not a group that enjoys the limelight, think of Underwood and his staff next time you are tailgating hours before kickoff, trying to impossibly flush an airplane bottle and admiring the flawless field as the team pours out of the tunnel. It’s their efforts that make all of this possible.
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