Industry News

Cal Poly student wins insider’s view of Super Bowl

Toro Co. program sends Sean McLaughlin to Houston where his favorite team is favored.

Lawrence, Kan. (Jan. 31, 2017) – Sean McLaughlin won’t be catching passes or making tackles during the 2017 NFL Super Bowl game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday (Feb. 5), but he will be there on the sidelines.

A senior at California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona), McLaughlin is spending this week helping with field preparations alongside NFL field director Ed Mangan and sports turf legend George Toma, after being chosen the winner in The Toro Co.’s Super Bowl Sports Turf Training Program. 

McLaughlin's duties this week involve everything from turfgrass maintenance (including natural grass practice fields at Rice University and the University of Houston), to logo painting to media day and halftime arrangements. He is also getting a chance to watch his favorite team play.

“I’ve been a big New England Patriots fan for the past 13 years, so I was excited when they won the AFC Championship,” said McLaughlin, a student member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). “This is a surreal experience for me. To be honest, my whole family is a bit jealous, and I don’t blame them.”

This is the 16th year that Toro and the NFL have offered this opportunity to students in the turfgrass management field. To be considered, a student must be in the second year of a two-year program or in the third year of a four-year program.

“I learned about the internship a little bit past the deadline last year, so I was disappointed,” said McLaughlin, a Southern California native who will graduate in May. “Now I have an indescribable opportunity. I’m really looking forward to taking it all in and learning everything I can during my time there.”

McLaughlin can now add this highlight to his others, which include first place in the 2016 Sports Turf Managers Association Challenge.

NRG Stadium is home to the NFL’s Houston Texans, and it was the site of the 2004 Super Bowl, won by the Patriots over the Carolina Panthers. The stadium was the NFL’s first with a retractable roof and natural grass. The turf has since been changed to a synthetic surface. 

Toro has partnered with the NFL for on-site equipment since 1967, and in 2003, it established the Toro Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program, which annually recognizes a student who has shown leadership in turfgrass management and provides the opportunity to learn from industry experts while assisting the grounds crew for the Super Bowl.

“Students within the turfgrass industry have benefitted from Toro’s partnership with the NFL for the past 15 years,” said Dale Getz, sports fields and grounds sales manager at Toro. “We are pleased to support and aide in the development of future turfgrass professionals.”

About GCSAA and the EIFG

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.


Craig Smith, Director, Communications and Media Relations
Phone: 800-472-7878, ext. 4431 or 785-691-9197 (cell)