WEST LAFAYETTE — Brian Bornino is a Purdue man through and through. He holds two undergraduate degrees as well as a Masters, all from the University he continues to call home 15 years later. As the Sports Turf Crew Chief at Purdue, he oversees a team that manages all fields across the campus — soccer, baseball, softball, track & field — and is personally tasked with overseeing the football field himself.
While many things have changed during his tenure, one that has not is Brian’s connection to Ross-Ade. When he was initially hired in 2005, the Ohio native worked under Al Capitos who was the school’s new Sports Turf Manager and came from his prior role as Head Groundskeeper of the Baltimore Orioles. With no one person dedicated to managing the football stadium at the time, Brian quickly found himself at the helm with plenty to learn.
Between then and now, many students have worked under Brian’s leadership and gone onto successful careers with other universities and professional teams across several sports. Bornino chalks this up to an increased level of expectation at Purdue that is “ten times higher” than it was when he began. What were once lightly maintained facilities have now achieved a level that rivals some professional sports venues. And it’s not just the Sports Turf team that has taken notice.
With college athletics as competitive as ever, schools look for an edge wherever they can find it when it comes to landing top recruits. At Purdue, the facilities are an integral part of coaches pitches to recruits. Amongst the visits to the dorm halls, dining commons and training facilities, coaches are certain to bring athletes and their parents to the facilities, almost always ending at the football stadium to create a “wow” factor.
Each year Bornino takes a team of students to the Sports Turf Managers Association Annual Conference where they compete in the prestigious Student Challenge against other universities from around the country. Last year Purdue finished in second place and have their sights set on the title in 2019.