By Jarrett Standridge
Before Owen Pickard and his wife, Kelcie, bought their Blanchard house, the Jake FM radio personality saw potential in the backyard. He immediately noticed how flat the ground was and came up with an idea
First, though, he had to persuade his wife.
He wanted to create a place for nieces and nephews, and eventually, his son Gideon to enjoy.
Today, a little over five months later, “Giddy Field” sits in his backyard. Nestled between his house and an open pasture, the field is a one-tenth scale replica of the University of Oklahoma’s Owen Field. Owen dubbed the 100-foot field “Giddy” after his 10-month-old son, Gideon.
“I thought it would be vain or goofy calling it ‘mini Owen Field’ because ironically my name is Owen,” said Pickard.
The name “Giddy Field” perfectly sums up what the field is all about for Pickard: family.
After moving into their new home around Memorial Day, Owen began to research grass, soil and all that comes with building a field. Even before they had purchased the house, he knew that he wanted to follow through with his idea. Owen had mentioned it to his wife, Kelcie, but she was not too keen on the idea. After begging for her permission, Kelcie finally gave in.
The inspiration for “Giddy Field” was not from Pickard’s love for the Sooners.
“Having spent however long doing radio, that has included me having saturdays at remotes or car dealerships and stuff. So, for the past decade, I haven’t been a superfan like I was when I was a kid,” said Owen.
It was not from the movie Field of Dreams, either. His inspiration came from the desire to have something to not only to enjoy with family but to share as well.
“I was excited for the house but honestly, I was probably more excited about what to do in the backyard,” Pickard said.
With his wife’s permission finally granted, Owen set out to find everything he would need. During his search for adequate grass, he settled on Tahoma 31, a Bermuda hybrid that was engineered by OU’s in-state rival Oklahoma State. The name Tahoma 31 comes from the Native American word “Tahoma” which means “frozen water” to highlight the grass’s winter hardiness. But it was a struggle for Pickard to get ahold of Tahoma 31. The grass was engineered to be used for large athletic fields, such as the University of Arkansas’ football field and the Tennessee Titans’ practice field, not a miniature field in a backyard.
According to Sod Production Services, the marketing and licensing agent for Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass, “Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass is among the most winter-hardy of the improved hybrid bermudagrasses on the market today,”. Tahoma 31 was engineered to withstand winters and droughts as well as to tolerate consistent wear. These qualities make it best suited for athletic fields.
Typically, this grass is sold in large quantities to be able to cover the specific playing surface it is being used for. This made it difficult for Pickard to find someone willing to sell him the smaller amount he needed.
After moving into his house and weeks of searching, Pickard finally found someone who would deliver the grass in the middle of June. Riverview Sod Ranch in Leonard, Oklahoma sold Owen 8,000 square foot of Tahoma 31 for around $2,400. After paying for delivery and having the grass rolled out, it cost $3,650. But that didn’t stop Pickard. Once the grass arrived, the work began.
Building “Giddy Field” meant many hot summer nights after work moving dirt, laying the grass, mowing the grass and watering it. During July and August, Owen meticulously nurtured the grass, grooming it to look its best by early September, just in time for OU’s home opener against Houston on Labor Day weekend.
During the process of building the field, “Giddy Field” got its own Twitter Account. Owen created the account in July to showcase the work he was putting in. The account shows the entire process of the field’s creation, beginning with the first mowing of the grass.
With gameday approaching, it was time to paint the field. Despite some rain, Pickard was able to get the field painted by kickoff with the help of his family. The numbers were painted with stencils that were hand-drawn by his grandfather. The OU mid-field logo and the “Oklahoma” wordmark for the end zones were from stencils that Owen found during his research. Pickard had reached out to Jeff Salmond, the former director of athletic field management at OU. Salmond referred him to World Class Athletic Surfaces in Leland, Mississippi. They were the company who made the full size Stencils for Owen Field at OU.
Minus the red end zones and some hash marks between the yard lines, “Giddy Field” looked exactly like Owen Field in Norman.
Becoming a Tradition
While Pickard thought building a replica football field in the backyard was a great idea, his wife Kelcie was reluctant to let him start. The time it took to convince his wife to let him build the field was almost the same as the time spent mowing and watering the field. After continuously asking her for permission, Kelcie finally gave in.
“I figured it would figure itself out,” Kelcie said. She realized that Owen would either complete the field or that he would eventually give up.
Once Owen had finished the field, however, Kelcie’s opinion changed. What was once a crazy idea will become a tradition for the Pickards. Owen plans on taking care of the grass all summer and then painting it for OU’s first game every year.
While only nieces and nephews play on the field now, Owen’s son Gideon will walk on the field that was named after him soon. Next year, Gideon will be able to run and play on the field rather than trying to eat it as he does now.
Owen looks forward to being able to enjoy time in the back yard with his son.
“That is what me and my dad did. We would play as I grew up and he taught me how to catch and things like that,” Pickard said. This is his motivation to keep the field nice. The field is something the Pickards will be able to look forward to every summer.
Once Gideon is old enough, Owen says he will be helping his dad take care of the field. “He doesn’t know that yet but his butt will be down there helping,” says Owen.
“Giddy Field” has gained Pickard a few new titles. Typically, when someone meets Owen, they recognize his voice from the radio as he is part of “The Wake with Jake Show” on 93.3 Jake FM. But now, he is sometimes recognized from Twitter as “the guy who built the mini Owen Field”. The field has its own Twitter account with 180 followers currently. The account shows the work that Pickard put into bringing the field to fruition.
When he called the company in Mississippi that he purchased the logo stencils from, the man on the phone asked him what they were for. For the most part when dealing with suppliers, Owen did not give much detail about his project in hopes to be taken more seriously. However, this time he told the man that he was building a football field in his yard. The man proceeded to tell Pickard that he had seen him and his field on Twitter.
Despite the following that the field has gained since its creation over the summer, Owen likes the fact that the field is somewhat secluded behind his house. He has had multiple people ask about taking photos on the field, some of which were even willing to pay for them. Although he appreciates the fascination with his field, he respectfully declined.
While the paint on the field has faded, the dream of sharing “Giddy Field” with friends and family is alive and well. Hours and hours of research, work and sweat have culminated into a tradition unique to the Pickards. For 10-month-old Gideon, the field will become a special place to share with his father for years to come.
“I would love it if people would want to come and look at it, but for the most part it’s not necessarily open to the public,” said Pickard.