Nicole Sherry
Head Groundskeeper // Baltimore Orioles
2023 Class of Pioneers in the Field

“I’m done thinking I don’t deserve to be here.” A game time decision that changed the course of Nicole Sherry’s career. 

Sherry is the Head Groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles and has cemented herself as a leader, innovator and trailblazer over the past 20 plus years in the sports turf industry. As only one of two women in an MLB Head Groundskeeper position, Sherry said imposter syndrome has found its way into her head several times over the years. The tipping point for Sherry was when she decided to silence the naysayers, block out the negativity and have complete conviction in her abilities. That ah-ha moment has allowed Sherry to not only go on to have an epic career in Baltimore but serve as an inspiration to others who needed to know they deserve a seat at the table, a spot on the field, and a place at the top.

Nicole Sherry’s turf origin story takes place at the same location she calls home today. Sherry’s first intro to turfgrass came when she was an agriculture student on a field trip to Camden Yards. Standing in the middle of that ballpark over 20 years ago sparked something in Sherry that would serve as an intro to a trailblazing career in sports turf management. Two weeks after connecting with the Head Groundskeeper at that time, Al Capitos, Sherry was moving to Baltimore. She was starving, in need of a working gig and deciding whether or not to continue her education. Al Capitos of the Orioles worked with Sherry those first few years to teach her the ropes in her assistant position while supporting her schedule in order to finish her four year degree. After a few seasons as an assistant at Camden Yards, Sherry took her talents to the Trenton Thunder where she eventually became the Head Groundskeeper. Sherry credits those pivotal years in Trenton as important chapters to her groundskeeper story. Sherry said, “when I moved over to the minor leagues with the Trenton Thunder, I didn’t realize how important that would be for my career and the skills I still utilize today. In hindsight, I’m happy I wasn’t immediately offered the head gig in Baltimore because I learned so much in the minor leagues. Nothing pushes a professional more than having to complete a job with low budgets, small staff numbers, and limited resources. The success I’ve been able to have in the majors is because of what I learned in the minor leagues.” 


Sherry credited the minor leagues as her classroom and her “classmates” as some of her biggest champions who have helped her get where she is today. Sherry said, “my mom and dad have always been my biggest fans and their encouragement to never stay within my comfort zone is the foundation I’ve built my career upon. Then there were mentors in those early days, like Al Capitos and Dr. John Sorrocan, who never turned their back on me and answered any question I threw their way. Additionally, I know how fortunate I was to have co-captains at every stage of the game who made me a better professional and boss. Nick Rozdilski, Chris Weaver and Andrew Lawing are all really special to me because without an assistant who supports you whole-heartedly, you can’t be a team;  and without a team, you can’t win.”

Sherry is forever grateful to the people who championed her to think outside of the box and operate outside of her comfort zone. It’s because of those mentors, co-workers and inspirations that Sherry prioritizes advocating for the next generation currently coming up in the industry today. In her position at Camden Yards, Sherry knows how important it is to lead with honesty about this job. Sherry says being a boss in sports turf is so much more than giving someone a job. It’s about exposing them to this lifestyle and what they can potentially achieve. Sherry said, “I let my employees see the whole picture and the reality of what goes into managing a career in this industry. Because of my honesty and straight-forwardness, we have a bond built on trust. It's been incredibly rewarding to be a champion for the professionals I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I love seeing previous employees succeeding in their own right, running their own gigs or blazing a trail of their own. I know they’re out there helping combat the misconceptions about groundskeepers right alongside me. We are creating visibility as scientists, as business managers and as professionals who are constantly evolving to be more than anyone ever expected of us.” 

Creating visibility and being an industry advocate is another skill on Sherry’s resume that she’s taken upon herself. By promoting visibility in our industry, Sherry knows we can combat those common misconceptions and we also expose people to the intricacies of our profession. Starting with the younger generation. Sherry said, “it’s incredibly important to encourage the next generation to consider a career in turf, but it’s even more important to change how people see our career as a whole. We need to create engagement by promoting this industry for what it is, a science based career that incorporates the fun elements of sports, events and management. Through introductions to STEM and getting kids involved in a different kind of science, we can reinvigorate our workforce.” 

The role science plays in a groundskeeper’s gig has certainly evolved since Sherry’s start in the game. Becoming a focal point, science has pushed our profession to new heights through incorporation of new equipment, resources and strategies to get the job done. Sherry says groundskeepers in today’s arena are really making things happen for their organizations, their crews and their careers. Sherry said, “everything about this job has evolved since my beginning. The type of equipment we use, the experience, the networking opportunities, it’s all changed. We’ve all grown up in this together and the conversation around groundskeeping keeps changing. We are really great at what we do, especially when you consider the amount of tasks we’re expected to juggle. We keep taking on more and more, which grants us that visibility because we are still providing the best playing surfaces for professional athletes along with everything else. I know it’s expanded my mind to consider what my facility needs in order to operate. I might be stressed under the surface because of the management this job requires and the physical tasks of my position, but through our science and labor we are changing the stereotype.” And at the end of the day Sherry says it’s still about winning and losing. A groundskeeper is a member of the team so, when the team wins, you win. Sherry said she walks away from the field each night with a sense of pride because of what she and her crew were able to create for their fan base, national television and the athletes. That feeling is what gets her up the next morning to come back and do it all over again. 

Nicole is a role model for young women as they look to break into what we might perceive as male dominated fields. I know Nicole as a friend but also worked with her at Camden Yards. She is invited to speak at many of the all girls schools here in Baltimore. The science and STEM aspect of what she does is the lead in but it's truly Nicole as a role model to these school age girls that is the critical message. Traditionally when young girls attend any sporting event they look on a field and it's all men. Between the players, the umpires/refs, and other staff, even in 2023, it's still almost all male. For them to see a female, on the field, in a position of importance can be a real game changer for them. What started as a simple outing to the ballpark can become a pivotal moment in their life and career options."

Sharon Perfetti


As Sherry’s job has evolved over the years, the same can be said for her life outside of the ballpark. In true groundskeeper, chaotic, unpredictability fashion, Nicole’s son Tyson was born hours before opening day. Sherry added an important title to her resume that day and she credits the skills she’s learned on the job in making her a better mom, daughter and friend. Sherry said, “I’ve had to find a good balance, I make time no matter what. I might be tired at the end of the day but I prioritize that time with my son. In a lot of ways this job has helped me juggle the many roles I play. As a groundskeeper, I have to adjust and adapt constantly. The same can be said for being a mom, daughter and friend. I always have a plan, but that plan has a plan and a backup plan and another plan for that. If you train your crew properly and give them the tools to succeed or empower them to lead, everyone is brought into that success. The same can be said for raising children.” 

Nicole Sherry hopes it resonates with her crew, the industry, and her son that she gives 100% every single day. Sherry concluded by saying, “for this industry that I love, I hope that I coached future sports field managers that won’t quit when the going gets tough. I hope they know how to speak up and out, gracefully. I hope they understand that failing at times will only help them succeed in the long run. For my son, I hope he sees that his mom’s role goes way beyond being just a groundskeeper. I’m a strong woman who plays a pivotal role in professional baseball. I hope he knows the negativity that may have been present because of who I am and the job I earned never stopped me from giving 100% or believing in myself.” 

While there will always be people who will say there’s no way you can do it. For Nicole Sherry, there are even more of us that know, without a doubt, that she can.