July 03, 2013
By -, -
OKLAHOMA CITY -- When Kylee Rounsaville helps prep and maintain the field for games at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark this summer, she is making Oklahoma City baseball history in the process.
Kylee became the first female grounds crew member in the 16-year history of the Oklahoma City RedHawks when she joined head groundskeeper Monte McCoy's staff this spring.
The Oklahoma City University softball catcher has helped maintain her home field at Ann Lacy Stadium since she started playing there in 2011.
When she learned of an opportunity to work on the RedHawks home field this season, she jumped at the chance.
"It's a dream job," Kylee said. "It really is, especially for an athlete that likes to be out on the field."
Kylee, 21, grew up in Mustang, Okla., playing softball for the last 18 years. The avid baseball fan has attended RedHawks games since her childhood. Now she gets a new perspective working the dirt and manicuring the infield before, during and after games.
Two Major League Baseball teams – the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles – have head groundskeepers who are women, but female grounds crew members are still a rarity in baseball. Kylee knows she holds a unique position and is excited to be trailblazing.
She said she often amazes people when she tells them about her summer job – and also gets double-takes when she works out on the field.
"A lot of people are surprised more than anything, and then they are like, 'Oh well, a girl can do that,' " Kylee said. "That's more the surprising part, the fact that people don't think that girls can do what guys can do, or girls don't know as much about baseball as guys know. I've watched baseball my whole life. I soak it up like a sponge."
She started working for the RedHawks in late March during her college softball season. She would travel from practice to Bricktown, arriving about two hours before first pitch. She now works most RedHawks home games this summer.
Kylee and her fellow grounds crew members take down and move batting practice screens
and equipment, then set up the field for the game – dragging and raking the infield dirt, chalking base lines and watering. Every third and sixth inning they head out to drag the infield, pulling large drag brooms in tow. Additional maintenance follows the conclusion of the game.
During the moments in between, she can enjoy watching the game with her co-workers and try to pick up intricacies of the sport by watching the Triple-A catchers in action.
"Other than that, I'm hanging out with the boys all night, cracking jokes," Kylee said.
When rain moves in, so does the grounds crew, pulling a large tarp behind them to cover the infield.
After a long rain delay in April, and with the clock approaching midnight, the grounds crew worked hard trying to get standing water off the warning track.
"I was working the field in my bare feet with water up to my shins squeegeeing water off the field," she said. "It gets miserable when it's raining, that's for sure. I think I would rather be hot and sweaty than drenched."
Man or woman, the work expectations are the same, and Kylee has fit right in, Monte said.
"Getting the field ready for the game, raking and cleaning the edges, setting up and taking down batting practice – name it, she'll do it," said Monte, who has been with the organization since 1997.
Monte, the two-time Pacific Coast League Sports Turf Manager of the Year, said he simply looks for hard working people to join his crew each season.
"That's the main thing," he said. "l can train. You don't have to have baseball experience necessarily. Really it's just being good people, and being willing to work long hours."
Kylee even encouraged one of her softball teammates to get involved and quickly doubled the number of women on the RedHawks grounds crew.
Danielle Fox, a pitcher at OCU, started working on the grounds crew with Kylee in June. Both had always worked indoor jobs and cherish the chance to work outdoors at the ballpark.
Kylee said it's also great to work for Monte.
"He works with me and teaches me how to do stuff rather than throwing me out to the sharks," she said. "He's awesome. He teaches and understands everything out here. If you have any questions, he can answer anything. He's a really good boss."
Monte said Kylee and Dani are trailblazers in the field for Oklahoma City.
"I always tease them about that – that they are an inspiration to all those little girls out there thinking that they can be grounds crew members too," Monte said.
Kylee gladly accepts the role and said working on the RedHawks grounds crew is a job she'll always remember.
"I don't even feel like I am coming to work when I come here," she said.