Meet Melissa Sibrian, an apprentice here at the Maryland SoccerPlex Sports Turf Institute!
Melissa has been a member of our team for over two years and began her apprenticeship with the Institute in the last year. Melissa grew up an athlete, playing with the Plex’s clubs, becoming a coach here, and eventually getting a full-time job with us. She fell in love with the turfgrass industry once she began working with our team and has not looked back.
“When I was a part-time worker, I had the impression that it was just mowing fields and moving goals, I did not understand the depth of the job. It is so much more. There are so many things that go into taking care of the fields. It’s a lot of work every single day, and it humbled me and gave me more respect for what we are doing.”
Sports turf is a male-dominated industry, but more women have been entering the field and setting new standards. Melissa loves being in a career field where she is challenged and has the opportunity to break through barriers and prove people wrong about what she and other women are capable of. “Especially being a female in this field, you don’t always see women doing these things. I want to do something that other women don’t, and I like to prove people wrong about what I am capable of. Some aspects of this job challenge me in a way that doesn’t challenge men, but I always find an alternative way to get the job done.”
Melissa’s love of learning new things also helps her excel. Athletes can look at a playing surface and determine whether or not they want to play on it and can tell how the playing surface might impact them and what they are doing. Now, being on the other side, Melissa is able to combine her experiences with playing surfaces from an athlete’s perspective with what she is learning about field maintenance in order to achieve the ideal conditions for athletes. “The way Jerad [Minnick, Director of Grounds] explains things is very eye-opening because his approach is innovative. I am very excited about the way he thinks and operates. It makes you more inclined and eager to learn from him.”
Melissa’s long-term goals are still open with all of the potential this field has to offer. “Working with an all-female crew would be really exciting. I would also like the opportunity to go abroad and work somewhere else. But I like what I do and would be happy continuing to work here and progress.”
Advice that Melissa has for those trying to get into the field: do it.
“This is the life experience that will help you in the long run. It is rewarding and humbling to do this work, and you gain a lot of respect for the environment. Even if you can’t see yourself doing some of these tasks, you really do fall in love with the work and what it brings.”