By STEVE KRAH
As soon as Blake Marschand could put one foot in front of the other, he was stepping on a baseball field.
From a young age, Blake was helping his father groom diamonds and other facilities.
Greg Marschand, a 2017 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee, has spent countless hours on fields at Lewis Cass High School in Walton, Ind., where he is still head baseball coach and athletic director.
“My dad got this etched in me,” says Blake Marschand, who played football, basketball and baseball for the Cass Kings and graduated in 1998. “This is all I knew. There was no sleeping in on the weekends when I was a little kid.
“Sports have always been a big thing to the Marschand family.”
Over the years, Blake saw his father’s work ethic and heard him talk about having a company that builds and maintains these places to play ball.
A right-handed pitcher, Blake played baseball for two years at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala., and two at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu and retuned to Howard County, Indiana.
MAFS works on baseball, softball, football and soccer fields.
On the natural side of things, it’s construction (laser grading, adding DuraEdge infield mix, building mounds and bullpens, complete tear-offs, re-grades, re-builds and more) and maintenance (aerification, fertilization, overseeding, top dressing, deep-tine aerification, edging etc.).
As a regional representative, Marschand applies DuraEdge-engineered infield mix. The product is used on many Major League Baseball fields and throughout the nation. There are three main varieties — Classic, Collegiate and Pro. Each mix is engineered to certain percentages of clay, sand and silt.
Marschand and his crew also perform maintenance on artificial-surface fields throughout the Midwest for Sprinturf.
“I’m not totally against synthetic (turf),” says Marschand. “It’s got it’s place.”
Marschand notes that some schools may not have had their fields built the right or does not have the right equipment or knowledge to maintain those fields correctly.
“If the fields are built using the correct products and materials, it makes maintenance a lot easier,” says Marschand. “Basketball courts get budgeted to be re-surfaced every year, but outside fields often get put on the back burner.
“Outdoor fields being laser-graded every two or three years would be similar to having a basketball court re-surfaced.”
It’s all about maintaining a facility. It cuts down on that big project.
MAFS has been to fields all over Indiana and continues to pick up new business.
For 13 years, Marschand has held the contract at CFD Investments Highland Park Stadium in Kokomo, Ind., doing daily game preparation, clean-up and more.
“We thrive on building and developing that honest relationship with customers,” says Marschand. “We’re not a huge business. I just try to keep it to a small core group of (four to five workers). That way we can be efficient.”
Marschand says that the initial important step in field construction or maintenance is using the correct products such as DuraEdge infield mix and setting the correct grade.
“Looking into the future, that’s just going to help in maintaining the field,” says Marschand. “On a renovation project, it sometimes can be tricky because we have to match the existing grade of the way the field was laid out.
“We’re trying to determine what percentage of grade that is to give them that efficient surface run-off, which is what you want.
“On the DuraEdge side, we shoot for a two-inch cap,” says Marschand. “That will give you a really nice, quality skin surface.”
Marschand says the best time to do field renovation work is in the summer and fall because the weather tends to be nicer and teams are not on the field as often as they are in the spring.
Even though the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has baseball — and other sports — canceled for the spring, MAFS has been busy working on fields.
But it’s not been a typical March and April.
“Usually springs are pretty stressful,” says Marschand. “Once you get those first sunny days, your phone’s ringing off the hook. Everybody wants you there that day. I get it. I’m not mad at them for that.
“The goal is to make your customers happy. You don’t want to keep them waiting.
“We’ve got all kinds of work in the books. I try to lay out my work on a first-come, first-served basis. When customers call I put them on a list and try to run down that list.”
There is not much grade work being done when it’s wet, but the crew can install mounds and perform other tasks.
“I also try to split it up so I’m not burning guys out on the same thing every day,” says Marschand. “That’s what’s so great about this work. It’s always something different. Every place is different and has its own needs.”
Marschand is appreciate of the relationships he has formed in the industry.
“Guys that are way more knowledgeable than me are always willing to talk and discuss whatever the situation might be,” says Marschand. “Having those relationships mean a lot to me and I’m very thankful.”
Marschand typically looks for former athletes to work on his crew.
“They understand the work ethic and appreciate the big picture once they start seeing what goes on behind the scenes,” says Marschand.
This week’s schedule called for work on netting and padding on the dugouts at Kokomo Municipal Stadium, building mounds for Noblesville High School, finishing laser-grading at Carroll (Flora) High School, aeriating and later top-dressing at Kokomo High School soccer fields, spraying at Guerin Catholic High School, spraying at Western High School, top-dressing at Eastern High School and a number of things at Rochester High School.
Blake and Tara Marschand live in Kokomo with daughters Kinsley (11) and Bayah (7).
Marschand’s Athletic Field Service has long held the maintenance contract at CFD Investments Highland Park Stadium in Kokomo, Ind.
Marschand’s Athletic Field Service has laser-graded Andy Mohr Field, the softball facility at Indiana University.
Marschand’s Athletic Field Service has laser-graded Alexander Field, Purdue University’s baseball facility.
The Marschand family (from left): Tara, Bayah, Blake and Kinsley. The Marschands reside in Kokomo, Ind. Blake Marschand is the founder of Marschand’s Athletic Field Service.