Jaymeson Wilcox played baseball in college for a year before joining the Army in 2003. “I love sports and being outside,” he said. This summer, the Kishwaukee College Horticulture student is spending every day outdoors at the baseball field. Jaymeson works with the grounds crew at Miller Stadium for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jaymeson, a 2002 graduate of Oregon High School, still has a few classes to complete at Kishwaukee College to receive his Associate in Applied Science in Sports Turf Management. He has been working at the ball park since March and plans to return next season. It is a work experience made all the more interesting because Jaymeson had never even heard of Sports Turf as a career until 2013.
“I wanted to be a cop like my Dad growing up,” he explained. “I never knew a career like this even was a choice. In 2013, I started working in Davis Junction under Jamey Young. That's really where my interest in turf really started.” He enrolled in Kishwaukee College and found the Horticulture faculty pointing him in the right direction to pursue his new found interest. “They have all been great,” he said. “If I need anything, I can call or text them and if I have questions about something they will help me out the best they can.”
This summer, Jaymeson is at Miller Stadium every day. The ballpark is relatively new, having opened in 2001, and boasts the only fan-shaped convertible roof among America’s baseball parks. The turf is “lo-mo Kentucky bluegrass” which is common in ballparks because it is denser and creates truer hops for a baseball in motion. The grounds crew consists of three full-time members and approximately 35 seasonal grounds crew members, which this year includes Jaymeson.
A typical game day begins early as the crew gets the field ready for play. “I help get the field ready for games – patch bullpens, home plate, and the baselines,” he said. “It is surprising just how much work goes into getting the field ready for a game. You always have to be thinking two steps ahead on game days and be ready for things to pop last minute. There is a lot of work being done to the field when the team is out of town, too, and also when we get the field ready for a concert when the team is on the road. And then, of course, what happens to the turf after a concert!”
Jaymeson enjoys his day-to-day work schedule. He said, “The best part is the people I work with. There is such a great group of people that work up here, it makes the days fun! We all work very well together.”
He plans to complete his degree at Kishwaukee and return to Milwaukee next season to work at Miller Stadium. “This is a perfect fit for me and I really enjoy knowing I am giving kids, adults and, in this case, professional athletes, the best playing surface I can.”
There is one unique aspect to Jaymeson's position at Miller Park. Jaymeson stated, “I'm a Chicago Cubs fan. I have always been one. So it’s hard not to cheer for the Cubs when they are in town.”