RANDOLPH, NJ- The Recreation Committee invited sports program representatives to their meeting on Thursday, Sept. 11, for an overview on the programs.
Chair and eight year committee member, Valerie Delaney, three year committee member, John Raeihle, and former president and nine year committee member, Dave Kemp, represented the softball committee.
Delaney reported softball signups being consistent throughout the years. Varsity level has a high number of teams, usually eight or nine teams of 15 girls. Junior Varsity, fourth and fifth graders, is at an average of eight teams. Rookie level, second and third graders, is at eight teams, 10 in past years. First grade and kindergarten dropped in enrollment with five teams at clinic this year and T-ball, which is kindergarten, is at four teams.
Financially the committee has done rather well for themselves. A majority of their earnings come from sponsors. The committee also sells merchandise. However, that’s been fairly slow only earning them a couple hundred dollars for profit.
“I think we have every dentist, orthodontist as a sponsor this year. They come back year after year. I send out the thank you letters and forms for next year. About 90 percent come back every year,” said Delaney.
At the end of the season, they have a Spring Fling that is paid by the committee’s funds. Guests only pay for snack stand purchases and any softball merchandise they desire.
Delaney admitted to the recreation committee that kid signups for the umpire positions has been difficult. In the past, her tactic was to have her children and friends sign up but now that her children are older that strategy is no longer viable.
“Once you don’t have a connection to the kids at those ages it’s hard to get them and we have seriously been struggling these past couple of years. We kind of rely on a return umpire but they’re just not coming back,” said Delaney.
Delaney sends a note out to any family with a child interested in umpiring for baseball or softball. Unfortunately, the majority of the time she receives responses from parents who rather their child be a baseball umpire. If Delaney is acquainted with the family she will request they reconsider.
“Somebody new took over the umpires this year. He’s gone through emails saying kids have a final or test the next day and can’t make it to a game night. So he’s at work trying to find a replacement umpire and now it’s interfering with his fulltime job, unfortunately,” said Raeihle.
Two year President Dave Tamres represented the Little League/Baseball Committee Thursday night. Tamres reported having a successful season this year including their first time Little League Night that was also a hit.
Major League level, grades 10 through 12, always had a minimum playing time for kids where they could play two innings and one at bat. The committee voted to change the rule this year. Now every kid gets to bat every time through the lineup. They received a mixed response but overall the consensus was very positive.
“I think there were a lot less unhappy parents and most importantly happy kids. They got to play more than one at bat during a game when their parents were sitting there watching. That was a big success,” said Tamres.
The committee is in the process of developing a mentor program. Former players at the high school level who went through the program would mentor younger levels and work with the coaches. The plan fell through in the past but Tamres hopes it will be a triumph this year.
Tamres reported that their umpire numbers have been steady and that complaints regarding the quality of umpire are down this year. He also made the recreation committee aware of a safety issue at Freedom Park.
“The lips around the field are very dangerous. You see it all the time. The kids are getting hurt because these balls bounce crazily. That could be fixed. That’s the thing that is of more necessity,” said Tamres.
The town is currently going through a Parks Master Plan and all committees will have a chance to voice any concerns or safety issues.
During the council report, Council Liaison Mark Forstenhausler reported the approval of extra money for the old farm house at Freedom Park to repair a few issues. A lot of road repairs and paving was done with the exception of Piercing Hill Road. The top of the road was paved but there is plan to reconstruct the bottom part as well. There was also talk of adding cameras at the Freedom Park entrance after an issue arose when a shed was set on fire.
In other news, Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Jeanne Montemarano reported the Artworks Program still having spots available. Usually by this time the program is full but one reason it could not be is due to late registration. In the past, registration started as early as June and July. This year it was opened in September. There is also a new director, Kelly Vargas, who has taken over the program and made it her own.
“We did expect a drop because there was a big change. The former director taught a lot of classes and people wanted to go to her class. The numbers are down but we are looking at new things and ways to bring the people in the studio,” said Parks and Recreation Director Russell Newman.
Committee member, Michael Behar, mentioned that youth football is losing kids possibly because it has turned more into high school football. Kids are there from August first to the second week of November. They are also out on the field four days a week.
“We have to reel it back in someway, somehow. They play 12 games, and I’ve played football all my life and remember playing 10 whole games in college. At the younger ages, I was out on the fields two times a week for practice. It should be two days a week, game on Saturdays, eight games total.
Kids don’t want to play because it’s too time consuming,” said Behar.
Behar suggested the committee buy in and take his proposition to the league for a vote to help increase and encourage more football players.