During a time when Stillwater High graduate Kyle Waters was contemplating his future, he realized the value of being in the right place at the right time.
Waters, a 1995 graduate of SHS where he was a standout pitcher and football player, was working with the field maintenance crew at Oklahoma State’s Allie Reynolds Stadium when he decided on a career path. He studied horticulture, landscape architecture and turf management at OSU.
Growing up as a classmate, teammate and friend of current Cowboy baseball coach Josh Holliday, Waters spent many hours at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium as a youngster during the tenure of coach Gary Ward and pitching coach Tom Holliday.
The friendships and connections he made during that time benefited Waters, who walked on at OSU as a pitcher before being sidelined by shoulder surgeries. When former Cowboy player and pitching coach John Ferrell left to become farm director for the Cleveland Indians, he hired Waters as head grounds keeper for the Indians’ AAA team in Buffalo, New York.
“I was with the AAA team for one season and my resume ended up in the right hands when I was hired with AEG, a sports and entertainment company in Los Angeles,” Waters said. “I started out as the assistant turf director, then moved up to director, director of facilities and ended up being the assistant general manager for the soccer complex.”
It was an exciting time at AEG, a worldwide organization which has a 30,000-seat soccer stadium, an 8,000-seat tennis stadium, nine soccer fields and 22 tennis courts. In addition, AEG was the training site for college football teams competing in the Rose Bowl. AEG also produced numerous concerts.
Waters was with AEG from September 2003 until April 2016 when he was hired by Cowboy Athletic Director Mike Holder as a senior athletic director for facilities and operations.
“It’s very similar but at the same time different because in LA we always looked at our profits, here it’s more strategic and the teams are the most important thing. It’s finally starting to come together with our staff … we are the guys behind the scenes,” said Waters, who is assisted by Matt Davis, former Cowboy football equipment manager and current color analyst for Cowboy baseball games.
“We’re close to finishing the soccer stadium, it should be done in a month and the cross country field should be finished in three months and equestrian should be completed in a month. And, the baseball stadium should be completed in October or November this year,” Waters said.
“It’s going to be huge. I would venture to say it will be one of the top three baseball stadiums in the country. We first thought we’d have to go with synthetic turf because of the shade but we’ll only do synthetic around home plate. Fortunately, we have a good groundskeeper in Todd Tribble. I met Todd at Georgia Tech when Josh was coaching at Tech. He’s been here for 10 years.”
It’s been an interesting journey for Waters … from not knowing what he wanted to do in life to returning to his hometown and alma mater.
Ron Holt is a sports columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Holt served as sports editor for more than 30 years and resides in Bixby.