Throughout the summer, SoonerSports.com will go "behind the team" with features on the support staff all across campus that help Oklahoma soccer succeed. The third installment of this series features Desmond Stephens, who keeps OU's playing field pristine as a member of the Fields and Grounds team.
Check out OU's Behind the Team archives here.
When it comes to maintaining a top-notch facility, Oklahoma counts on Desmond Stephens to keep the OU Soccer Complex among the best. The Sooners train at one of the finest facilities in the nation and compete under the lights at John Crain Field in the heart of the OU campus.
Of course, keeping OU’s playing and practice surfaces is no easy feat. Between the sear of the Oklahoma sun and the constant wear and tear from athletic use, Stephens has his job cut out for him on a daily basis.
“This season, for example, we’ll have five games in three weeks, and the field can get worn out,” Stephens explained. “If it’s really hot, it gets stressful on the grass to have a lot of action for it.”
Stephens works hand-in-hand with the Sooner coaching staff to make certain the playing surface stays in the best possible condition. The group has several tools at its disposal, including the new ability to move the perimeter of the field around during the seasons as a defense against wear and tear. Stephens also coordinates with the coaching staff to rotate time spent on playing surfaces, minimizing the stress on the field and keeping it in top condition.
At the end of May, OU’s soccer team was met with an unfamiliar sight when they visited John Crain Field and were met with an expanse of...sand. Stephens and the grounds crew were hard at work installing a brand-new playing surface for the 2014 season.
“At the end of May, we stripped the field down to nothing but sand,” Stephens said. “We then re-tilled the sand and re-graded it, then laid all new sod. We started from scratch to get it going and have been babying it since then.”
The result is a beautiful new expanse of green that will be ready to roll in August when the season fires back up. For Stephens and the OU coaching staff, the excellence of the Oklahoma facilities is a point of true pride they can note every day.
“Our facility is the top facility in the Big 12 for sure, and we like to think it’s the best in the country,” Stephens said. “From what I’ve heard from coaches and players who have travelled around the country, this is one of the top facilities they have played at.”