Head Groundskeeper Terry Hewitt

Meet Terry Hewitt, Saints Groundkeeper

Aaron Todd '00, M'06

One of the first people Elisa Van Kirk met when she was hired as the head softball coach at St. Lawrence was Head Groundskeeper Terry Hewitt.

“He literally asked me, ‘How do you want the dirt?’” recalls Van Kirk. “I think I said, ‘On the field?’”

What Hewitt really wanted to know was whether Van Kirk wanted the dirt on the infield to be soft, to slow down ground balls, or hard, to keep them moving.

Attention to detail—Hewitt’s approach to his work—has made him a favorite of the Athletics Department coaches and staff. Last year, he was honored as the James W. “Doc” Littlejohn and Ronald J. Waske Athletic Service Award winner for his dedication, devotion and contributions to student-athletes and the athletics program.

“St. Lawrence is special because of its people, and one of those people is Terry Hewitt,” says Head Football Coach Dan Puckhaber. “He’s set the bar high for how you treat your job, especially a thankless job like managing fields.”

A quick conversation with Hewitt reveals just how much pride he takes in what he does. From the paint he uses for practice fields and for game day (game-day paint is brighter), to the fertilizers he uses (some promote the growth of deep roots to alleviate the need for watering, others are used simply to “green it up and make it look pretty”), to the anatomy and construction of the field itself, there’s no doubt Hewitt knows his trade.

“I’m noticing a lot of night crawlers on the soccer field, so that’s telling me we’ve got too much organic matter on top of the sand,” he says. He’s already planning to use a VertiDrain to “pull cores” from the field this summer, which should help alleviate the problem.

The soccer field offered a whole new headache for Hewitt last fall, when, after one of the driest summers in recent memory, Canton was hit with five inches of rain in two days and a small pond formed near one of the sidelines, causing the ball to come to a dead stop every time it landed in the area.

“I took a tennis squeegee and pushed off as much water as I could, but it kept raining and raining,” said Hewitt. “I did try some Diamond Dry in that area and I think it would have worked if it had stopped raining, so I’ll be ready to try that, if it happens again.”

The local weather offers a unique challenge, especially for the baseball and softball fields which often start before the North Country spring weather becomes reliable. You have to be prepared for all conditions, as was illustrated by a May 5 snow shower this season.

“I know that he’s going to get us out there as soon as possible,” says Van Kirk. “Our field always seems to be ready a few days or even a week earlier than any of the other fields up here.

“I trust him 100 percent, and that’s why he’s so easy to work with. I know he’s going to make the best decision to get us on the field to play, even if that means he has to do more work.” 

Ask Terry Hewitt which fields are the most difficult to maintain, and it doesn’t take a long time for him to answer.

“You’re working on the practice football fields almost daily,” says Hewitt. “Other than mowing and painting, you’re making repairs out there.”

Painting the game field is an endeavor of its own. Hewitt estimates it takes three hours and 25 gallons of white paint just to paint the numbers, sidelines and the yard lines on the field. Stuart Lawrence, who works with Hewitt on the grounds crew, paints the end zones and the logo with Hewitt’s assistance. The end zones require an additional 60 gallons of paint (30 red, 15 white and 15 brown). 

The game field is mowed three times a week, and depending on the weather, the field is usually finished one day before a game.

Illustration by Aaron Todd, as described by Terry Hewitt.