Dream Job with Washington Nationals

Luke Montgomery Courtesy of Roxboro Community School

An internship in the nation’s capital turned into a dream job for Lucas Montgomery of Roxboro and allowed him to turn a passion into a more-than-full-time job. While in college, the 2019 Roxboro Community School (RCS) graduate took an internship that led to him being an assistant field manager for the Washington Nationals baseball team.

After graduating from RCS, Luke studied turfgrass management at Guilford Tech Community College. There, he said, he learned about an opportunity to intern with the Nationals through a Sports Field Management Association job board, and applied because the internship was designed to teach him more about maintaining a field.

He said his current job as the Nationals’ assistant field manager “consists of many of the same jobs” he was doing as an intern but entails “more responsibility” with more being expected of him. He said the job “is basically my life for two thirds of the year.”

After the regular season in 2022, however, he said, his job was “pretty easy going as we had a ‘winter wonderland’ on the field called Enchant,” which turned the park into a Christmas village with an ice-skating rink, light shows, Santa’s house, and other holiday-themed offerings. During the winter, Luke said, “The whole field [was] covered with flooring.” A benefit of having the field taken over by an outside interest, Luke said, was him and his coworkers being able to work “normal 40-hour weeks” for a change. Recently, he added, the field was cleared of the Enchant holiday show and now he and his coworkers “will begin to rip up, laser grade, and re-sod the whole field.”

When asked how he ended up in this particular career path, Luke said he started working on a golf course when he was 16 and “first learned that turf management was an actual thing.” He added that he worked on the golf course for over three years. “Then a high school friend . . . said they needed help at the Durham Bulls” minor league baseball team part-time. “I fell in love with working on sports fields then,” he continued. “I just love baseball so much that when I realized I could still make a career around it, I couldn’t resist.”

He played baseball and soccer while in high school. Luke said coaches Pete Tuck, Dwayne Clayton, Ron Hodgin, and Brian Pleasant instilled in him a love for playing sports. He thanks long-time Person High School and RCS coach Pete Tuck “for being one of the greatest baseball coaches in history and playing such a huge part in [his] love for baseball.” Luke said Tuck coached him from the age of seven.

After graduation from RCS, Luke continued to work on the field at Optimist Park, where the Bulldogs play their baseball games. He said he was grateful to current head baseball coach Hodgin for allowing him to continue to work on the field and with the team after graduation.

That work gave him a head start on the career he now enjoys, and that will soon keep him quite busy. Opening day of the 2023 season is on March 30, he said, against the Atlanta Braves. “For my coworkers and me, this means we have to have the field ready to play before that date. MLB (Major League Baseball) officials will come and inspect our field and make sure everything inside the walls is within specifications, which is only an eighth of an inch margin of error. To say the least,” he said, “with the season approaching, I’m happy to be making overtime again.”

Luke said he would advise other young people that, “If there is something you want to do and you’re really passionate about it, make it happen. The only person that can stop you, is you. Stay humble, don’t acknowledge anyone who speaks down on you, and never stop pushing until you’re satisfied.”

He concluded, “Thank you to my parents and everyone else who supported and helped me along the way. I never would have imagined when I was a kid that I would be where I am now.”

Roxboro Community School
115 Lake Drive
Roxboro, NC 27573
(336) 597-0020 / (336) 419-4551
[email protected]

Phyliss Boatwright is a journalist who for years reported Person County news in The Courier-Times. She has published two books and several short stories. Her book review show, Turn the Page, can be heard on WKRX, 96.7. For the past 11 years, she has taught journalism and served as public information officer at Roxboro Community School. She can be reached via email at [email protected].