Parks and Recreation implements new programsBy HASKEL BURNS,
The Hub City has long offered recreational programs for residents, from basketball and softball leagues to youth activities like football. Now, the city is looking to attract all age groups with some new, innovative programming, in addition to continuing the success of the long-implemented programs.
New/innovative programs (dodgeball, kickball,
First on the list of new programs is the city’s first-ever adult co-ed dodgeball league, followed shortly by an adult kickball league.
Innovative Programs Coordinator Kristen Nooe said the two programs will hopefully fill a gap in offerings for the 25-35 year-old age range.
“Dodgeball and kickball leagues were created out of a need for programming to reach Hattiesburg’s young professionals,” she said. “Adult basketball and softball leagues are very successful, but we know those types of competitive sports aren’t for everyone.
“We wanted to create something unique and different, and these two programs add to the diversity of programs we offer.”
The dodgeball league is open to any individual who turned 18 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2017. Each team must field at least six players – with a maximum of 12 players – and because the league is co-ed, all teams must consist of at least two members of the opposite sex.
Starting April 26, six games will be played once a week, from 6-9 p.m. Thursdays at the Lt. Ben McNair Recreation Center near Hattiesburg High School. Those six games will be followed by a championship game on June 2.
Registration is open until Monday at www.cityofhpr.siplay.com, with a registration fee of $200 per team. For more information on the dodgeball program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Parks and Recreation Department at (601) 545-4623.
“We’re hoping to have a large turnout of teams from all over Hattiesburg,” Nooe said. “The police department and the fire department have already signed up, and several other city departments have also discussed creating other teams.
“Additionally, a lot of local businesses and gyms are creating their own work teams. We’re excited about the fact that we’ll have city employees and citizens playing together. It drives home meaning for why we do what we do.”
Although an exact date hasn’t been set for the kickball league, it’s expected to begin a few weeks after the dodgeball season commences.
Also in the works are some community gardens, in particular one for senior citizens near the W.U. Sigler Center on Conti Street.
“We chose to implement a community garden for our seniors because that’s what they asked for,” Nooe said. “Our department really wants to get feedback from the community on what they want to see in regards to programming.
“If it can be done, we want to do it. Our seniors are excited about the community garden, and we are too.”
Baby Boomer programs
After seeing several people from ages 35 to 65 playing horseshoes throughout the community, Parks and Recreation Director Ronnie Perkins decided he’d like to bring a formal, organized group to the Hub City. Perkins’ idea is to perhaps have teams representing each of the city’s five wards, and work out a common location at which to play the games.
The horseshoes league is still in the planning mode, but officials hope to start games by May.
“Mayor (Toby) Barker wanted to implement new programs that reach a variety of audiences,” Perkins said. “I surveyed several citizens to see if they would like it added to our programs, and I received an overwhelming response of ‘Yes.’
“I now have more than 60 participants, between (the ages) of 35 and 60 ready to participate.”
Perkins is also looking to starting a senior league for pickleball, a paddle sport similar to badminton or tennis.
“We’re constantly evaluating opportunities to bring something a little different to our program offerings,” he said. “I recently visited the City of Biloxi and saw a group of seniors playing pickleball and having a great time doing it.
“After investigating our facilities, I researched how we could do this program here, and our tennis courts would work. I believe that this program will be a great asset for our seniors.”
For more information on the horseshoes and pickleball leagues, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (601) 545-4623.
Youth programs (Football, basketball, cheer, etc.)
Youth programs have been available for some time in Hattiesburg, providing many sports options for children from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
More recently, officials enlisted the help of Xfinity Dance Studio to enlist a cheer program to go along with the football and basketball programs. The studio also brings some options for performance dance.
“The City of Hattiesburg provides youth programs in an effort to introduce our children and their families to explore the world of recreation through a variety of diverse programs,” said Myron Lott, division manager of programming. “Our programs provide a safe, structured environment for children to develop skills and get out and play.”
In addition, the city continues its softball, baseball, T-ball and track and field programs.
“Our programs are designed to encourage community involvement and support, and all of our programs are offered in a fun, family-friendly environment,” Lott said. “They are well-attended.”
For more information on Hattiesburg’s youth programs, visit www.cityofhpr.siplay.com, or call Lott at (601) 545-4674.