Behind the scenes with UNC's grounds crew

As the lights come on at Boshamer Stadium on April 23, Sammy Jermane leans on the railing attached to an outfield deck just beyond the left field wall, anxiously watching the North Carolina baseball team.

The deck has been here two years longer than Jermane, an extension of the shed behind the field that houses a fleet of golf carts and stacks of tools.

The deck, painted green and adorned with a giant American flag painted by associate turf manager Casey Carrick, is an escape from the grind of the workweek, an oasis away from an 80 hour week in the worst of times and 50 in the light weeks.

As Parks Jordan steps up to the plate, Jermaine claps and yells “Atta boy, Parks.”

Jermane spends a lot of time talking with the left fielder through the protective mesh netting separating the two.

Though Jermane is a die-hard N.C. State fan, he lives and breathes North Carolina baseball February through June.

“For football and basketball, I cheer for the boys in red,” he says, his gaze fixed on the game as UNC clings to a three-run lead against No. 30 Liberty. “But in between the lines, I bleed Carolina blue.”

A couple of feet and a net might separate Jermaine from the action, but he’s more a part of North Carolina and its athletics programs than his words suggest.

Jermane is one of just eight men on the UNC grounds crew, a corps charged with maintaining some of the most hallowed spots in Chapel Hill.

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