This the third time in four years Temple has won the award for the GRPA Fourth District. Last year was the first time since 2009 the city’s recreation department has failed to be honored with the award.
Recreation Director Thad Ferguson gives credit for the department’s success to the volunteer coaches for their support to local recreation programs.
“I think a lot of it is stability with the staff we’ve got in our department now and we’ve got good coaches,” he said. “Our coaches are pretty much the face of Temple recreation because they’re the first face most people see. As long as they’re doing the job we want them to do I believe that helps our numbers stay steady and increase based on them.”
Participation in Temple’s recreation programs has steadily increased the last several years, lending evidence that the staff is doing something right to bring people back after a long period of participants going to Carrollton, Villa Rica and even Douglasville to participate in sports. Since 2007, the number of participants in Temple’s organized athletic programs has grown from 271 to 528 this year, not including soccer.
Soccer is the only athletic program municipal recreation departments don’t receive allotment funds for from the county. However, since Temple began offering soccer in 2008 the program has grown to 680 participants combined for the spring and fall seasons and continues to be the fastest-growing sport in the department.
“Soccer is kind of leveling out right now, but it’s had the biggest jump the last three years,” Ferguson said.
Besides winning the Athletic Agency of the Year award, the department has won several other district awards in the past four years.
“I congratulate Thad and the recreation department on their accomplishments,” said Councilman Richard Bracknell, who chairs the council’s Recreation Committee. “They’re probably deserving of a raise for all they do.”
Not content with recent success, the Recreation Department is set to grow in the near future with the recent purchase of property adjacent to the recreation complex that will be used to put in several new multipurpose fields to accommodate growing numbers of participants.
“You can’t get complacent and just kind of do what you can to get by,” Ferguson said. “Things will start going downhill if you do that. I think we need to keep striving to get bigger and better, and not just with numbers but by continuing to update facilities as well.”