Joey Perry goes through several pairs of tennis shoes each year. It’s easy to do when you’re responsible for every painted inch at Bagwell Field in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
His feet and paint sprayer are too close together to avoid contact. “Every day my shoe color changes,” he said. “I do get a few pairs each season.”
On the morning of Aug. 29 he was in the middle of applying yellow paint to E-A-S-T-C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A in the end zone closest to the student section, in preparation for the ECU Pirates' season opener against Old Dominion.
Typically he will use 35 gallon buckets of water-based paint per game. It’s just him, another full-time person and about six student workers who get the stadium ready before each football game. He’s in charge of all athletic fields at ECU, where the team uses a variety of equipment including airless paint machines, reel mowers, tractors, aerators, blowers, sweepers, sprayers and more.
“Generally for a Saturday game we start painting on Wednesday,” said Perry, sports turf manager for East Carolina University where he’s worked 13 years.
“We do all the white on Wednesday, and all the color on Thursday. This week we had some rain so I ended up finishing up the logo this morning (Friday).”
He will paint 6-7 hours each of the two days before a game. Perry said he always does the logo at midfield last. “Because that’s the finishing touch,” he said.
How long does it take the paint to dry? “It all depends on the weather,” Perry said.
The paint will dry in 30-45 minutes on a sunny hot day but takes longer in cold weather. Depending on the wind, the field can be 10-15 degrees warmer than temperature readings. “It’s not quite as hot as standing on asphalt but it’s definitely warm,” Perry said.
ECU sports turf manager Joey Perry paints the field in preparation for the ECU season opener against Old Dominion on Aug. 31. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)