Addressing youth sports concernsPublished 10:36am Thursday, September 19, 2013
We have had numerous calls in the mayor’s office inquiring about various aspects of youth sports and youth sports facilities. Thus, I decided that this would be a good time to answer these questions and let the public know about some exciting things happening in this arena. Most importantly, I want the people to know that the youth of this city are a top priority to me, and I will make no decision that will adversely affect our young people and their sports.
Many of our citizens noticed how nice the Byer’s Field area looks. I am pleased that the improvements were noticed. Fortunately, earlier this year the city was able to lease this land at a great price.
We quickly went to work getting the fields ready. Now we use them mainly for T-ball and extra practice field space. This frees the Sportplex baseball fields for games. Also, the city is working hand in hand with the private sector in making our baseball program second to none.
For the first time, we have a baseball program that is run by both the people and the city. The citizens voted and placed 15 people on a baseball board of directors.
This board will work directly with Sonny Wilson who is the director of the Alexander City Parks and Recreation department. Together, they will be able to raise money and recruit sponsors for baseball as well as run a successful program.
We are also making great strides in soccer. The track field at the Sportplex and one of the softball fields are currently being used for youth soccer, but this is only temporary.
The land beside Russell Pool is home to the new soccer complex. We are finishing laying sod on the two lower fields this week. Both of these fields will be ready for play in spring 2014. We are excited about this complex as it will be top notch, and we will be able to host our own tournaments once it is completed. This will bring revenue into the city by way of restaurants, hotels and gasoline.
We are also maintaining Hamp Lyon field. Our city league youth football has grown this year, and we have more players than ever.
So, we are using Hamp Lyon for extra practice field space and for some games. This is a great place, and many of our citizens have fond memories of their time at Hamp Lyon field. They can share these memories with their child or grandchild who is currently playing football at Hamp Lyon.
The city gymnastics center is full every afternoon with our youth who are participating in either gymnastics or cheer tumble classes. We have two excellent coaches and several assistant coaches at our gym, and we are proud to have them as they work hard training our young people in all areas of cheer and gymnastics.
The city gym has recently been updated and has lots of new equipment and a brand new spring floor that the gymnasts and cheerleaders love. With the city owning the building that houses our gym, we will be able to offer classes at a low monthly price, and we do not require any sort of contract. This way, your child can take an entire month of gymnastics, and then he or she decides that gymnastics is not their sport, the parent is not tied to a contract for six months or a year. I am extremely pleased that we can help our young people by offering these affordable classes.
As you can see from these many examples, we have been working tirelessly to offer our young people quality sports activities and facilities. The many improvements have kept Mike Goodwin, who is the head of maintenance at the Sportplex, so busy that his department ran out of time painting the field for last Friday’s football game. Many people noticed this, and we have had quite a few calls at city hall. Let me assure everyone that the letters will be completely painted for Friday’s night’s game against Valley. We experienced bad timing, as the sod for the new soccer field was delivered last week.
We had all of our maintenance staff helping with this and unfortunately did not schedule enough time to go back and fill in the letters at the field. We certainly are not going to leave it with just an outline. Mr. Goodwin does a great job for our city and takes enormous pride in his work. He will have our field in great shape by Friday.
I hope that I have answered many of the questions that are out there. Also, it is true that we are attempting to save money where we can in order to improve our roads and other infrastructure. However, sports and the city’s youth will not be one of these areas. Actually, I would like to see these areas grow and prosper.
Shaw is a mayor of Alexander City and a guest columnist for The Outlook.