9 March, 2022

Field of dreams for teenage curator

CHORES such as mowing, rolling, watering and fertilising may not sound appealing to most teens, but for Luke Wilmot it is all a part of his voluntary work as a grounds curator.

Field of dreams for teenage curator - feature photo

The Burpengary-based teenager even has aspirations to eventually make a career in sports turf management.

Luke currently does deliveries for Domino’s Pizza, and he has recently been working with a cabinet making company.

Luke has also played club cricket for Burpengary since he was seven, and this season he has captured 25 wickets at a miserly average of 10.08 to help the Division 3 team qualify for the finals.

But it is Luke’s volunteer work off the field that hints at his possible future.

One of very few teenagers to become a grounds curator, Luke started this voluntary work in late 2018 when he was 15 years old and in Grade 9. Since 2019, he has done this on his own rather than under anyone else’s direction or supervision.

Luke focuses on James Worthington Oval, which has one cricket block with four pitches. He has the pitches prepped for two games on two separate pitches on occasions: one for seniors and one for juniors.

Luke said he averaged between 20 and 25 hours over six days each week on the pitch, although working full-time this year had impacted the preparation time.

“Club members help with the covers and rolling,” he said.

“This season, my girlfriend helped me with mowing the outfield sometimes.”

Asked what prompted his interest in this type of voluntary work, Luke said, “I was interested in learning what was involved, and I needed to learn a skill as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.”

Although not on a traineeship as a grounds curator, Luke said former Burpengary Cricket Club president Conrad Chatham taught him the basics.

“I really appreciated the time and effort Conrad put in to teaching me and developing my skills and confidence initially, plus the trust and support given by the club to allow a teenager to take on this responsibility and further his skills,” Luke said.

“I worked as a casual assistant greenkeeper and started a school-based traineeship for about nine months.

“I taught myself some things, (and was) keen to learn some more.”

Before each cricket season begins, Luke is busy with scarifying, top dressing, squaring the block marking the perimeter, fertilising, and helping organise the servicing of equipment.

Each week during cricket season, his main tasks with the pitch are watering, mowing, preparing, rolling and line marking.

Luke said the weather had a huge impact, as he needed to constantly monitor weather forecasts.

Incidentally, local cricket has not been possible in recent weeks due to deluges of rain. Luke had the pitches ready, but play could not take place due to the condition of the outfield.

“The pitch prep needs to be done when dry,” he said.

“If rain is predicted for later in the week then I need to prep early in the week and get the covers on.

“(The weather also) impacts the amount of watering required. Rain early in the week means less watering is required.”

Luke said he tried to create a pitch that offered equal opportunities for batters and bowlers to ensure a fair and even game. He said the pitch would be a greentop if recently fertilised, and that he could “control a lot by changing height of mowing, amount of water etc”.

“I would like to secure an apprenticeship in sports turf management and work full-time in the industry,” he said.

“I would like to work my way up through Queensland Cricket to potentially higher/international level.”

As for feedback he receives on his performance as grounds curator at Burpengary, Luke said, “Everybody is an expert and has an opinion.

“Players always want to blame the pitch if they get out cheaply.”

Regardless, the appreciation from the club has been evident as Luke has received club awards including Volunteer of the Year, President’s Trophy, and Club Person of the Year.

Burpengary Cricket Club president Brad Bell said Luke was a “huge huge asset” to the club and was very reliable, trustworthy and down-to-earth.

“I take my hat off to the young fellow,” Brad said.

“He’s a credit to the club and a credit to his family.

“He probably puts in more hours than anyone else at the club, with the pitch maintenance and ground maintenance.”

Brad said he offered Luke positive feedback, although “he’s got to the stage where his knowledge is vast, as he’s talked to other curators”.

“The pitch has gotten better each year under Luke’s care.”


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