Expansion of the Long County Recreation Complex means this year’s football and soccer teams will play on new fields, according to Long County Recreation Department Director Michelle Crowley.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season,” she said. “The teams won’t be able to practice on the fields, but they will be playing their games on them.”
Crowley said both the football field and the soccer field have been completed, but the contractor still has to come back and take care of a few things relating to safety before anyone can play on the fields. She said this is another step toward a total makeover of the recreation complex.
“When everything is completed, we will have the football field, the soccer field, eight baseball fields, a walking trail around the complex, a playground, our pond, some batting cages and a new pavilion, Crowley said. “It’s going to be nice.”
Crowley said that the immediate next step is adding two more baseball fields and completing the paved walking trail.
“Right now, we have half of the walking trail finished; the other half of it will be where the two baseball fields are to go. As for the playground and the batting cages, we’re going to get them as soon as we can,” said.
The recreation department director said that from what she has been told by the county commission, the county will receive federal funding to cover work it did in preparation of more troops coming to Fort Stewart. The additional soldiers through a fifth brigade did not materialize.
Long County Commissioner Cliff DeLoach said he wasn’t sure of the exact amount that the county will receive, but when the money is awarded, a substantial amount of the funds will go toward completing the recreation complex.
Crowley said that the number of kids, both local and military, participating in recreational sports in the county has continued to grow in the three years she has been at the department.
“In baseball, T-ball and softball, we had 254 kids play two years ago, and this past year we had 286. When it rolls around this year, I’m expecting over 300 to come out,” she said.
But baseball isn’t the only sport undergoing a growth spurt. Crowley said that last year more than 100 boys signed up to play football and more than 80 girls signed up for cheerleading. She said she expects more than 200 kids to sign up for the two activities this season.
In addition to football, cheerleading and baseball, the complex also offers soccer and adult softball.
“We want to offer something for everyone. In the future, I hope that we can offer golf and tennis to the community, too,” Crowley said.
The director said she is the only full-time employee working at the recreation department but noted that she gets a lot of help from the assistant director, Randy Simmons, who works part-time. Still, there’s room for others to pitch in.
“Me and Randy do all that we can, but we are always needing volunteers who can come out and help,” Crowley said.
She said funding also is tight at times, so the department has fundraising events throughout the year.
The department will hold its first Long County Recreation Back-to-School Festival on Aug. 6.
“It’s going to be free to the community and we’re planning on having a waterslide, a home-run derby, a 3-point basketball shootout and a whole lot more,” Crowley said. “We’re also asking that if any nonprofit organization wants to come out and set up a booth or something, get with me and let me know.
“We also have football and cheerleading registration going on now and adult softball registration, so if you want to come out and play or know someone who wants to play, come on by and see me.”
For more information on participating in a sport offered by the Long County Recreation Department or to find out more on the festival in August, call 545-9112.