"We don't have the manpower like colleges, but we've got really hard workers." -- Terry Bryant
SIKESTON -- The last thing Sikeston Bulldog football players will ever have to worry about is their field not being ready for a home game -- as long as Terry Bryant and his maintenance "crew" keep up the good work.
Today marks the start of the football season for the Sikeston Bulldogs, and although their first home game is two weeks away, Bryant, director of facilities, and approximately five other maintenance workers are already anticipating the season.
"Basically, all we do is keep it mowed," claimed Bryant, who's been preparing the field for 15 years.
Bryant insists there's nothing exciting about what he and the other workers do. Maybe Bryant's work doesn't seem exciting to him, but it is vital to the team and the community.
During the summer the maintenance workers keep the field trimmed by mowing once a week. When football season begins, the field is mowed on the Wednesday of a home game. All scoreboards are tested on Thursday, too.
The painting crew comes in on Wednesday and Thursday to work on lines and end zones. The bulldog circle emblem and the Sikeston end zone are finished Friday, Bryant said.
"We're out there pretty much all day Friday," Bryant said. "And Saturday is clean-up day-- which takes most of the day."
In order to make the letters and the bulldog emblem in the center of the field precise, Bryant and workers use a computer grid to map everything out. Then they string it out in 2-foot grids. The water-based paint is air-sprayed onto the field, Bryant said.
Since the majority of the field is painted Thursday, touch-ups are sometimes required on Friday. "If it's really hot, the grass will grow through the paint overnight," Bryant said. "So we'll have to go over it again the day of the game."
Over the years there have been some spilled paint buckets and a wrong number painted here or there, but nothing the crew hasn't been able to control -- except that one little act of Mother Nature called rain. But even that can be handled.
"Last year was our most difficult time," Bryant said. "It's normally hot, but for first three games in a row, it rained before the game. We were still painting lines at 5 p.m. on the days we played."
The worst problem is if it looks like it's going to rain. Bryant said he always watches the weather to see if rain is in the forecast the week of a game.
Each year the crew likes to make small changes to the design of the field. "It's nothing drastic," Bryant insisted. "We don't have the manpower like colleges, but we've got really hard workers."
For example, one year "Bulldogs" was in all capital letters on the end zones. Last year it was capital and small letters that were red with a black shadow. This year "Sikeston" will be at one end zone and "Bulldogs" on the other. Letters will be white shadowed by red, Bryant said.
Bryant admitted he looks for design ideas all the time when he watches football on TV. He particularly pays attention to college fields because he thinks most colleges decorate their fields more than the pros.
"After Sept. 11 last year, we decorated our field with red and blue and put a red ribbon on the 35-yard line," Bryant said. "It seemed like after we did that everyone was decorating their fields. I don't know if we were the first ones or not," he wondered.
Bryant said he and the other maintenance workers always try to make sure the lines are straight on the field and spend a little more time making the field look nice.
And apparently their work hasn't gone unnoticed.
"One of the guys told me the Missouri State High School Activities Association Web site once had a poll that asked which high school has the best football field in the state," Bryant recalled. "Somebody wrote in and said Sikeston had the best field. It was a compliment."
Check out the Sikeston Bulldogs -- and their field -- at their first home game Sept. 20.