Often times, I get the question “What do you do for work?”. By saying that I am the Director of Parks and Recreation in Suffield, Connecticut, most people respond, “that’s nice”, thinking of youth sports, summer camps, arts & crafts and maybe some staff dressed in matching shirts and khaki shorts working with kids. Just saying Parks and Recreation can never sum up the passion, hard work and planning we do on a daily basis for the people of Suffield. This month’s article for The Observer, will highlight some of the diverse youth programming we currently offer, and lay out some of the changes that are happening in youth sports this fall and winter. Be sure to visit us at: www.suffieldrec.com to see all of our adult, youth, and family programs.
It is true that some Parks and Recreation departments focus on youth activities, and in Suffield we do have our fair share of quality youth programming. The youth programming is broken down into a few categories, including youth sports, fitness, enrichment and camps. Our enrichment programs are second to none, and are purposely designed to be learning-based fun. Many of our enrichment programs take place directly after school, and help serve as extended learning opportunities for students.
Youth sports and fitness opportunities are boundless in the department. After -school fitness activities are a “can’t miss” for anyone looking to develop long-lasting fitness habits, while also improving their athleticism. Be sure to check out programs online and in our brochures. As for youth sports, soccer and field hockey are the flavors of fall. It is extremely exciting to see all the parks and fields filled with children, parents and other volunteers practicing, and playing the sports they love. Youth soccer has undergone some changes to incorporate larger goals, and slightly larger teams than in the past. These slight changes are modeled after the US Soccer curriculum, and will help players transition to other soccer opportunities. Some of these changes are coming after a very productive meeting with the Parks and Recreation Department, Suffield Soccer, Suffield High School soccer coaches and other soccer professionals. We are dedicated to having a recreational soccer program, but at the same time want players who want to play at a higher level to have that opportunity. The future is bright as we all work together to have great recreational as well as more competitive soccer programs.
A sport that is on the rise in the department is field hockey. We have worked closely with Suffield Public Schools to expand the offering to children in the second grade who want to play in the after-school field hockey program. Those second grade students are bused from Spaulding School to McAlister to join the third through fifth graders at practice. This year will also see the youth field hockey program playing games against surrounding communities, as well as attending a Suffield high school game as sideline guests. This year’s participation numbers have increased almost 75% over last year. Great job by all the staff and volunteers!
As we move into winter youth sports, basketball for players in kindergarten through eighth grades will also see some tweaks. We have invested in new basketball hoops for our “Kinderhoops” program. In the grades one and two program, we are looking to aid the parent volunteers with a “basketball coach” to provide them with instruction during their practices. These practices will be the same in all of the Saturday practice time slots. They will also be playing an end of season game versus other teams in our program. Get ready to cheer on your players! In the fifth grade through eighth grade programs, many surrounding towns are in the same situation with lower enrollment. Rather than playing the same one or two Suffield teams every week, we will be joining a few surrounding towns to offer a more diverse recreational basketball opportunity. The other significant change to basketball is that it is starting earlier than in the past. Look for sign up information soon.
In the spring, we have our instructional tee-ball program. Last year, we instituted having a softball coach lead structured practices. Coach Jen welcomed all of the parents who wanted to lend a hand and be involved with their child’s tee-ball experience. It was not only a perfect mix of coaching, kids and parent involvement, but also ensured players were learning the fundamentals for future development. We are already looking forward to this spring program!
These are just some of the wonderful programs we offer through the Parks and Recreation Department. To stay up to date on all happenings, be sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram; both tags are @suffieldrec. We would love to see your posts and images, so please tag us when you’re posting. See you around town