Aug 21, 2012 / 5:00 am
Remember back when you were in school -- one of the first assignments when you arrived in September was to write about what you did during the summer.
The coolest summer was spent by someone who went to Disneyland or camped across Canada.
Not many summer tales can hold a candle to Scott Dick.
Dick, a horticulturist with the City of Kelowna, has spent a better part of the last six months at the All England Tennis Club in the London suburb of Wimbeldon.
Not as a spectator, but as a grass attendant at both the Wimbeldon Tennis Championship and during the tennis events at the London 2012 Olympics.
He took a leave of absence from his city job to tend to the facilities at Wimbeldon and won't be returning home until later in September.
Castanet caught up with Dick via email in England.
Dick graduated with a degree in Turf Management and spent two years working on the turf at Wimbeldon in 2003 and 2004.
"In that time London received the 2012 Olympics, beating out Paris. I said I would love the opportunity to come back in 8 years never knowing where or what I would be doing in my life at that time. Fortunately everything worked out, so my wife and I and our two kids were off to Europe. My wife is getting the chance to spend some time in Norway, her home country, with our two kids and visit her family."
Castanet: What were your duties?
Dick: "Maintaining all 41 grass courts, marking them out, burning straight lines with mowers, fertilizing to give it a nice healthy green look, rolling the courts for a firm ground. Once the players start to show up, usually a week or two before the tournament starts, we need to make sure courts that are needed are set up ready for practice. Out of those 41 grass courts, 19 of them will be used for tournament play and the other 22 are for practice. While the tournament is under way we are making up pre-germinated seed to put down after the tournament to get a jump start on growth in the scuffed up areas of the courts so they will be ready for the Olympics.
As soon as the tournament is finished, a team of 28 groundsmen will be preparing to plant the pre-germinated seed into the courts to restore the scuffed surfaces. Traditionally the courts are entirely stripped down, soaked and aerated before new grass is sown. But we had three weeks to turn the courts around and make them look like day one of the championship, which was a success."
Castanet: What was the difference between Wimbeldon and the Olympics?
Dick: "The atmosphere was completely different from Wimbledon to the Olympics. Wimbledon is very traditional and has many rules that go back to the late 1800's. You must wear all white, no advertising, everything seems and feels very proper.
Then the Olympics move in where there's live bands, music playing everywhere, different country's flags, country colours being worn on court. The color green that is found everywhere had been all changed to the Olympic colours. To be part of the transition and witness the change was amazing, specially for us on the ground staff to get our courts ready for the Olympics to make them look like they did day one of the Wimbledon championships. A lot of hard work went into that three week period."
Castanet: What did you learn that you can bring back to your job in Kelowna?
Dick: "I find when travelling abroad you're always learning, especially when your lifestyle changes so much in different cultures. When working the Olympics you're seeing all kinds of cultures. My job back in Kelowna also deals with a lot of public relations and talking with the public throughout our parks. And we all know Kelowna is visited by people all over the world, so I find myself able to talk a lot about my experiences with the public."
Castanet: Did you get a chance to do some star gazing?
Dick: "About a week before the championship, just after the French Open, most of the players come to practice to get ready for Wimbledon. Seeing and talking with the pros is nice, you get to see them in a different environment, no press around or thousands of people swarming them. It's nice to see them relaxed. I can't say one bad thing about one player, they are all so nice, especially Roger Federer, He always makes an exception to ask how things are and lets us know how the courts are playing. The man is a legend. Good to see him win this year, and also very nice to see Andy Murray take gold in front of the British fans. The atmosphere in center court was unbelievable."
Castanet: Did you get a chance to soak up the Olympic atmosphere once the tennis events concluded?
Dick: "Watching any event with British fans is always entertaining. It reminds me when Canada won gold in hockey. Unbelievable atmosphere. Watching Milos Raonic was very exciting as well, sitting court side wearing Canadian colours, cheering for your country is such a good feeling. After the Olympic tennis matches finished up and Great Brittan's Andy Murray had taken gold, I headed into the excitement around London, being able to catch some volleyball. The city was just alive with excitement. It's so good to see all the nations come together and how patriotic each one is. I find after really being involved how special the Olympics really is. I never had a bad feeling or felt unsafe. I think London has done an amazing job. The coverage was amazing which you find yourself getting interested in all events."
Scott Dick at Wimbeldon and the Olympics
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