A friend once told me that probably the most difficult jobs in the world belong to two professions — the ministry and a golf club professional. In a church, a minister must answer to the entire congregation. Just about everyone in that congregation has an idea on how the church should be run, and what they feel is best for the congregation, because meeting people’s spiritual need is important. I agree. At a golf club, the club professional must answer to the members. And just about every member has an idea how the course should be run and the best way for it to operate, because hitting that little white ball is important. I agree.
Well, I think I have found another profession to add to that most difficult job list, recreation and parks director. Because just about everyone who has contact with the department has an idea on how it should be run, especially in dealing with youth sports and activities. Because the kids are important, especially when it’s my kid.
I was surprised when I read in this newspaper last week about the resignation of Judi Nicholson as director of the Clinton Parks and Recreation Department. Just the previous Saturday, I had gone on a canoe and kayak trip sponsored by the Rec. Dept. and the Friends of the Sampson County Waterways. The trip was from Seven Springs up the Neuse River to the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park and back. Judi and Sebron Fussell led the trip. We were able to avoid the rain and everyone enjoyed the trip, especially when we were coming downstream back to Seven Springs.
Over the past several years I have officiated for Clinton Parks and Rec youth leagues. I’ve enjoyed calling football, baseball and basketball games. This is where most people have contact with the Clinton Rec Dept. To see the number of people on those fields watching games and participating is amazing. There may be hundreds of kids, parents, grandparents, etc., out at Royal Lane Park on any given night watching the action. And most of the parents, grandparents, etc, have an opinion on how the youth leagues should be run, especially as it relates to their child.
So being director of the Clinton Parks and Recreation, or any parks and recreation department, is a difficult job. It’s not just dealing with the opinions of the community who have contact with the department. Among other things, there are budget constraints, especially in this difficult economy, employee matters, and dealing with government rules, regulations and requirements.
As we rode up to Seven Springs that Saturday, Judi and I talked about many things, but mainly the Parks and Recreation Dept. I talked about umpiring, about how the simple, spring-loaded pitching machine they used this year was much better than the fancy, electric one used in previous years. One thing that Judi said that stuck out with me was how she wanted as many kids as possible to be involved in the youth sports leagues. She didn’t want any child, or their parent, to feel left out.
Because then they would become discouraged and would probably quit, or not sign up the next time.
Of course, now that the position of director of Clinton Parks and Recreation is vacant, it would be the appropriate time to combine the department with Sampson County Parks and Recreation. Among other things, it would help solve the touchy situation where youth, coaches and volunteers are involved with Clinton Parks and Recreation but live outside the city limits. In the long run it would save all Sampson County taxpayers money, make for more efficient sports programs for the youth, and better utilize facilities and personel. But, of course, it won’t happen.
I wish Judi the best and appreciate her hard work for the citizens of Clinton over the past years. I may have done a few things different. (Hey, I have an opinion, too.) But I also know that there was probably no one else who could have done the job as well as she.