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Leah Withrow Wants More Women in Groundskeeping

The head groundskeeper of the Reno Aces uses social media to recruit Gen Z into the field

When Leah Withrow, head groundskeeper for the Reno Aces (the Triple A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks), was first promoted to her position in 2021 she felt like she didn’t deserve it. She battled her own thoughts on whether or not she was too young and if she was experienced enough to take on the job. If she accepted, she would become the first woman ever in the program’s history to be head groundskeeper — and with her decision came the need to prove naysayers — and sometimes herself — wrong.

“You grow up thinking it’s supposed to be a man until it’s you,” Withrow says. “In every movie and TV show it’s always a guy in a suit that’s the CEO. It’s never a woman. I had to really stop the ‘prove everybody wrong’ mindset and start proving myself right. I did all the things that I was supposed to do. I did the trainings, I took all the certifications, I took the classes. I had to switch my mindset and tell myself that I was on the right path.”

There’s no hiding Withrow’s work. Her input on the field has to be able to speak for itself. If the grass is dying or something looks off, that reflects on her. She aims to make the field look pristine before and after every event that takes place at the stadium.

“I put out a good product every day,” Withrow says. “I put 100 percent in every day. I make sure this field is safe and playable for everybody who wants to come out on to it after a concert, circus or whatever they want to throw out here. Myself and my team bust our butts to make sure you never know another event took place here.”

By continuing to give it her all every day, the Greater Nevada Field was named the 2022 Professional Baseball Field of the Year by Sports Field Management Association. The SFMA Awards committee selected the field based on its quality as impacted by staffing, budget, use, monthly maintenance and visual story documenting the challenges and success throughout the course of the year.

“It’s humbling,” Withrow said while accepting the award. “Being recognized by my peers means the world to me, and this honor has been a career goal since I began working in the industry.”

Withrow credits her work ethic to being a “two feet in” type of person. This mindset has helped her in her career and allowed her to take chances that other people would have hesitated at. When she was looking to go to college for sports turf grass management, she contacted the Arizona Diamondbacks on their website and asked if she could shadow the head groundskeeper for a day and they said yes.

“To have an 18-year-old girl message a professional baseball team is kind of random for most people,” Withrow says. “I knew I was curious about it and I wanted to be all in.”

Withrow was able to work with the Diamondbacks for two days and after that she knew there was no going back. Because of this experience, she has made an effort to become a mentor to young women that are looking to join the industry.

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