Toro announced this year’s winner of the annual Toro Super Bowl* Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Conlan Burbrink is a student at the University of Tennesee, majoring in Turfgrass Science and Management, and was selected to assist the grounds crew in field preparations for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Since 1967, Toro has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to provide equipment and expertise to help prepare the game field and multiple practice fields leading up to the biggest professional football game of the year. In 2003, Toro and the NFL established the Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Developed to recognize one student each year who has shown exemplary leadership in turfgrass management, the program encourages emerging professionals to further grow their knowledge base by assisting the grounds crew for this high-profile game. Burbrink will work alongside NFL field directors Ed Mangan, George Toma and the Super Bowl grounds crew at Hard Rock Stadium on turfgrass maintenance, logo painting, field preparation for media day, halftime preparation and field cleanup.

Burbrink will graduate from the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2020. After his undergraduate studies, Burbrink plans to pursue his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees to further explore how soil characteristics impact the lower extremities of football players and ball interactions in various other sports.

“I believe there is a need to more accurately understand how a field contributes to the fatigue an athlete undergoes, especially in football,” said Burbrink. “This will help provide information for all athletes and help educate coaches, administrators and others on why field maintenance is crucial for the health of players at all levels. The overall goal is to provide the athletes with the best surfaces possible, and to mitigate most of the injuries related to the playing surface, while increasing overall safety and enjoyment of the sport.”

Apart from his focused studies in turfgrass science and management, Burbrink is also heavily involved at his university and has held several internships, including at the Oval in England, Orlando City SC and the Cincinnati Red’s Urban Youth Academy. He currently works as a student assistant for softball and soccer at the University of Tennesee. Burbrink also works at the university’s Center for Athletic Safety to research lower extremity injuries. 

To be considered for the program, entrants had to undergo a comprehensive application process. Burbrink was selected from a large pool of talented candidates due to his interest in pursuing a career in turfgrass science and management, his determination to continue further education related to turfgrass safety for athletes and the impressive involvement he has shown to acquire internships pertaining to his career. Applicants must be enrolled in at least the second year of a two-year turfgrass program, or in at least the junior year of a four-year turfgrass program.

“We know that Conlan is going to have a fantastic experience learning alongside some of the biggest names in the industry working to prepare the field for the big game,” said Boyd Montgomery, CSE, CSFM, regional business manager for sports fields & grounds, North America at Toro. “Conlan has shown a profound dedication to his studies in turfgrass science and has taken his interest to the next level by pursuing several internships, and we hope this experience helps him set a foundation for a fulfilling career ahead.”

The game will take place on February 2, 2020, and Burbrink will be on-site helping to prepare the field during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

* Super Bowl is a registered trademark of the NFL.

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