CALS Grad Helps Lay Ground for Super Bowl

Monday, February 6, 2017
Traficano (left) with his team at West Coast Turf

Joe Traficano graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a BS in Agricultural Education and minor in Agronomy. Currently employed with West Coast Turf, Traficano provides technical support and service to sporting facilities, businesses and individuals trying to achieve natural, healthy, ecologically friendly grass in Arizona. His work has taken him all over the southwest, to professional fields, and even to the 2016 super bowl. Just before this year's game, we asked Traficano about his exciting profession, and how CALS helped along the way. 

Q: What are you doing with your degree in Agricultural Education and Agronomy?  

A: My role with West Coast Turf (WCT) is to provide technical support and service to anyone looking for natural grass in Arizona.  My day-to-day work deals with talking to customers on the phone, making site visits to homes, golf courses, sports fields, landscape areas and giving technical advice.  The majority of my day is spent talking to people about the best grass to use in their particular situation along with any problem areas.  Probably the biggest topic is the transition period from ryegrass to Bermuda and how to handle it.  It is never the same every year.  Also part of my job pertains to overseeing the large number of sports fields WCT supplies natural grass to and work with everyone involved to make sure the grass is consistent and high quality.    

Q: How did your education and the resources available at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences prepare you for your current job? 

A: During school, I was taught and mentored by Dave Kopec and Charlie Mancino. My education taught us why we fertilize, irrigate, and mow the grass; my work experience taught us how we accomplish it.  Kai Umeda (Arizona Cooperative Extension) along with Dr. Kopec and their group have helped many of us in the business keep up on the new fertilizers, chemicals, and grasses with low water needs that are produced every year.  Their research of these products, especially drought-tolerant grass for the tough Arizona climate, has helped everyone with natural grass make better decisions for their facility, which in turn makes Cooperative Extension successful and an asset to the operation.  

Q: What stadiums or major sporting events are you and your company currently providing turf for? 

A: WCT is involved with all the major baseball stadiums in the Southwest, so right now we are getting ready for the 2017 MLB season re-sodding for the Oakland A’s, Anaheim Angels, AZ Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, and LA Dodgers, along with suppling natural grass to many of the spring training sites.  WCT also provides quality turf for the Rose Bowl and several other bowl games played this past December and January.  

Q: As far as the Super Bowl goes—should they use natural grass or synthetic grass? 

A: I grew up playing on natural grass fields and have always preferred to play any sport on natural grass just for the fact the grass smells and feels good.  As far as the super bowl goes, the NFL surveys their players every year on their preference of the best playing surface and the majority pick natural grass over synthetic.