Local gal says ‘dirty work’ not a man-only field

Local gal says ‘dirty work’ not a man-only field
Local gal says ‘dirty work’ not a man-only field

Union City Turf workers Jessica McBride and Hannah Davis rake the field at Elam Stadium.
Jessica McBride isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
In fact, she plans to make a career out of doing so.
McBride, a 2006 graduate of Obion County Central High School and currently a student at UT Martin, is one of two female summertime employees of the Union City Turf Management Department — a field made up largely of men.
Working toward a degree in turf landscape and golf course management with a target for graduation in December 2009, McBride says her job is much more to her than just a summer gig.
“This job is for me,” the 20-year-old daughter of Jeff and Beth McBride of Rives said recently. “I think, at first, some of the guys were surprised to see a girl’s face. I guess that might’ve been a little bit of an obstacle, but I’m the only female in my major, and I just consider it another challenge along the way.
“I don’t look at it like I’m a female in a field made up mostly of men. It’s what I want to do. I have a sense that this is where I’m supposed to be.
“And it’s my ultimate goal in 10 years is to be the field manager for a major league baseball team.”
If she doesn’t, it won’t be because of her work ethic.
Nor will it be that she wasn’t given the opportunity to prove herself on the ground level of the business — the same as the other all-male seven summer hands on the UCTMD work crew.
She capably handles the department’s rotary diesel mower and all other equipment and is proficient in readying any of the city’s fields for playing, according to foreman Robin Francis.
And McBride is cut no slack — despite her gender — when assignments are given out or accountability demanded within the confines of the Union City park.
“Considering that she had no experience in this field, she’s done quality work with everything we’ve given her to do,” Francis claimed. “And, given this is what she believes she wants to do career-wise, we’ve allowed her the opportunity to show us what she can do, and she’s paid attention to detail. We’re confident in her abilities and pleased with her job performance.”
McBride is actually not the lone female working this summer on the UC turf management team.
Another UT Martin student, Hannah Davis of Cornersville, is also working under the supervision of Francis and UCTMD Director Chris Crockett as well.
Unlike McBride, though, Davis likely won’t make a career out of her summer job. She is majoring in soil and water conservation and plans to pursue opportunities in that field — following in the footsteps of her father, Kevin.
She does, however, call her current temporary capacity with the Union City turf team “the best job I’ve ever had.”
“I used to work at Wal-Mart and I hated it. I love being outdoors and mowing and working on stuff.”
Davis also claims to be “just one of the guys” and said she receives no special treatment from her workmates around the park.
“I think at first they thought ‘here’s a girl who’s just going to stand around and look pretty.’ I think I’ve showed them I’m pretty capable, though, of doing a lot of things that they do.”
For her part, McBride said the challenges of quick-changing weather conditions that many times ruin a just-readied playing field is one she’s learned to enjoy.
“I don’t really like it when it rains all of a sudden after we’ve worked so hard to get a field ready, but it makes you have to adjust on the run sometimes,” she said. “It gets sorta hectic at times, but part of the job is to be ready for all different kinds of conditions and elements.
“You always have to be ready to pitch in and give a hand when those things happen.”
It’s how hers usually end up so dirty.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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