Stadium Manager // North Area Athletic Complex
2022 Class of Pioneers in the Field
When you meet Sun Roesslein, you’re met with a quiet, down to earth and good-natured sports turf professional. It’s easy to immediately understand what makes her a good friend and colleague because of her warmth and willingness to help. But, a first impression of Sun doesn’t even begin to paint the full picture of the powerhouse woman behind the North Area Athletic Complex in Colorado. It wasn’t until after several opportunities to chat with Sun that I started to discover some of the fascinating elements about her career -- with each interaction being more insightful than the last.
When joining the industry 19 years ago, Sun said she was given a warm welcome and made instant friends at her first STMA conference. Sun reflected, “the incredible Darian Daily was the first big name to come say hello to me and that made a real, lasting impression on me.” From Sun’s introduction to sports turf to where she is today, that welcoming and sharing spirit has been consistent throughout her career. This made it difficult for her to pinpoint what interactions, experiences or challenges have been the most impactful on her career. Sun credits crosswalk discoveries with as much importance as major career milestones because every opportunity she’s given to connect and engage with her peers has changed the course of her sports turf journey.
Today, alongside her peer, Christi Clay, the two manage a unique stadium that they hope provides a place where memories are made for young athletes. The stadium is home to 14 acres of natural grass, which serves as home field for six different high schools in Jefferson County school district. The two handle everything from painting to facility needs to event management. Sun chuckled when I asked her what a day in her life looks like. Sun reflected, “I could spend the day prepping the field and then by night I’m managing game day staff. Everyone from the announcer to the officials. Since we wear so many different hats, our biggest key to success is consistency. No matter what team is playing here, they’re going to get a quality natural grass playing surface.” Both Sun and Christi love that they have the opportunity to impact so many different student athletes’ experiences across the county, and take pride when their athletic careers go beyond high school.
Sun described Christi as the yin to her yang. For every job that Sun dislikes, Christi loves, and vice versa. Their shared passion for sports turf is what has made the duo successful over the past six years. In fact, Sun’s passion is what Christi says she values the most about her co-worker. Christi said, “Sun has been an incredible mentor, I really value her passion, integrity, honesty and commitment. Sun is a pioneer in the turf industry because she never fails to see the potential in a challenge and she is always willing to try new things. She’s overcome obstacles as a female in a male dominated industry, while continually pushing herself by stepping out of her comfort zone. She is not only my co-worker but one of my dearest friends that I can always trust for advice both professionally and personally.”
Several have attributed Sun as not only a pioneer in the turf industry, but additionally, a pillar of inspiration. While leading her female powered crew, she simultaneously advocates for more women to consider a career in turf. Sun reflected on being asked why women should choose turf, “I always think, why not? It’s a fantastic industry to be involved in. There are so many niches within an already niche industry. There’s no reason gender should be a factor. So, instead I like to ask, do you love being challenged and solving unique problems? Then choose turf.”
In 2021, Sun was given the opportunity to bring more awareness to her cause by being a member of the turf maintenance team for the U.S. Women’s Open. The prestigious golf tournament was powered by a volunteer turf crew which included 30 females, the trailblazers in turfgrass. Sun said it’s difficult to put into words what the opportunity meant for her and other women in turf. She shared, “it was much more than growing grass, it was a positive representation of our industry. I have trouble finding the words to describe how impactful that was for me. I honestly don’t think we will know the true impact for years to come. I grew up on softball fields and it never registered for me that someone was taking care of those fields. So, that’s what I hope movements like the trailblazers in turfgrass accomplish. Not only little girls realizing this is an option, but awareness as a whole for the women in this industry, making their mark.”
On big and small stages in turf, there are many misconceptions in what goes into providing safe and playable surfaces. So, when an athlete truly appreciates the fruits of Sun’s labors, that reinstills Sun’s passion and purpose. Sun said, “when a football player comes in from a visiting team and they’re amazed and excited to play at a stadium with real grass, it makes me giddy. I absolutely love being able to provide the type of field that kids are excited to play on, and all the challenges that come with maintaining natural grass.”
Sun Roesslein has proven to be many things: a leader in the turf industry, a positive representation for women in turf, a savvy and creative professional who innovates when faced with a challenge instead of cowering, and a valued coworker, mentor and friend. While some may think of Sun in her happiest forms, whether that be connecting with friends at STMA events, mowing or painting at her stadium or tailgating at Red Rocks! Sun hopes to be remembered for her passion above all else. She said, “I love our industry and I love what I get to do every single day. I’m enjoying what I do, truly. I hope that resonates with anyone I’m working with and the community I do this job for.”