Like many Canadian kids, Steve Rabski had childhood aspirations of playing hockey and baseball. At the young age of 14, Steve began his career in the golf industry! He was responsible for collecting garbage and raking bunkers at Twin Stacks Golf Club in Coniston, ON, just outside his hometown of Sudbury. It was at this point in his life that Steve realized he had developed a passion for turfgrass management.
Steve explains that the small staff at Twin Stacks allowed him to be exposed to many different jobs on the golf course very quickly and hone his skills. Steve spent seven seasons working at Twin Stacks. In his fifth season, a new Superintendent named Gerry Roque was hired. Steve comments that Gerry spoke very highly of the Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management (ADTM) program at the University of Guelph. At age 21, and two years into a Human Kinetics program at Laurentian University, Steve took Gerry’s comments to heart and explains that he decided to make the move to the University of Guelph. His passion for turfgrass management is clear, stating “I knew Guelph was where I was meant to be.”
After his first year in the ADTM program at Guelph, Steve completed his summer Internship at Bayview Golf and Country Club under the supervision of Superintendent Mike MacGillvray, a Penn State graduate, and Assistant Superintendent Joshua Vlasic, a recent University of Guelph DTM graduate! Steve cites three main areas of significance for his Internship: The flexibility for him to work within Ontario, excellent private club exposure, and the privilege of working with a highly educated management crew that was up to date on cutting-edge turf management practices. Steve is returning to Bayview Golf and Country Club at the end of this semester in a new role with additional responsibilities.
On campus, Steve has won the Ontario Golf Superintendents’ Association Scholar award, and is the Turf Club co-president. He has also lead the charge for a very successful Golf Industry Show Turf Bowl team. Steve explains that to the best of his knowledge, 2015 was the first year in turf bowl history for a first year DTM class from the UofG to attend - it is notable that the Turf Club won the Tweet Rally event at last year’s show. The UofG squad was the only Canadian team at the event last year, and this year was joined by a second Canadian team from Olds College. #Guelphturf had another great showing at the recent 2016 event - “The American turf schools really know who we are,” he explains.
Speaking about the experience as a student at UofG Steve notes “Guelph does a great job of interacting with alumni and getting students out, meeting industry professionals and going to tradeshows. It is somewhere you can get experience from industry professionals and is definitely the place to be for turf management.” He also notes that field trips are an important part of the program and for exposure to other DTM graduates such as Rob Heggie, Superintendent at BMO Field in Toronto, ON. Steve also explains that sports turf is becoming a very important component of studies and research at the University of Guelph.
Steve sums up his University of Guelph experience quite poignantly:
“No matter what turf program you enter in North America, you will get a quality education. The thing that puts Guelph above the other programs are the industry connections that are forged by exposure both in the classroom and internships – Everyone in the industry knows the Guelph program well and it does a great job of exposing its students to potential employers.”
Article authored and published by John R. Watson, Guelph Turfgrass Institute Communications Assistant
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