The department can also boast the best volunteers in GRPA’s Class C again this year with Daniel and Dana Velez receiving that honor for their work getting the city’s soccer program off the ground last year and continuing to help the program grow this year. Councilwoman Terron Bivins was named the volunteer of the year last year for her efforts over the years in the department.
“Our volunteers are what keeps things running,” Recreation Director Thad Ferguson said. “They’re the ones who come straight from work to practice or go to games. They spend a lot of time away from their families just to help out these kids. You definitely need to be dedicated to be a coach.”
Ferguson added that the department’s success the last two years can be directly attributed to the effort of all of the volunteers and the support the department receives from the city’s officials.
“It’s definitely a group effort,” he said. “We’ve had some good people in here helping me out and we get good support from the mayor, the city administrator and the city council. I think it’s all about just getting the right coaches in there and getting people the parents can trust, people who like teaching the kids. That’s the main reason people come back, in my opinion, because of the coaches and the job they do with the kids.”
Temple has only had a full-time recreation director for about four years, but since the mayor and council made recreation a priority participation in the department’s athletic programs has grown tremendously. While in the past the city often lost participants to surrounding recreation departments, the city’s participation in athletics has grown nearly 25 percent since 2008-2009 — from 319 to about 400 this year. Those numbers don’t include participation in the soccer program, which has nearly doubled since it was started in 2009.
“Most of those people who left are starting to come back to where they go to school and where they live,” Ferguson said, adding that Temple is beginning to even pull some participants from the Yorkville area of Paulding County.
The department is also slowly adding programs, the most recent being youth karate in June. There are also plans to add more adult-focused athletic opportunities to its existing adult basketball program, such as softball, flag football and karate.
“We definitely want to do a lot more of the adult stuff to give them something to do,” Ferguson said.
If recent success is an indicator, the future continues to look bright for the Temple Recreation Department.
“If we continue to improve on what we have and offer new programs for kids all the way up to adults and improve on the quality of our facilities inside and outside I think we should continue to grow,” Ferguson said.