We have some pretty cool things going on in our region. This post is the first of the Good Sports series, which I hope will become a long-running series highlighting some of these feel-good activities and organizations.
The spotlight today is on the Wakefield Recreation Association (WRA). Wakefield is a small town in Clay County, Kansas. It has a K-12 school, the Kansas Landscape Arboretum, Milford Lake, a plethora of outdoor activities, and great people. My special guest is one of those awesome Wakefield citizens, Ashley Dumler, president of the WRA and a teacher at Wakefield School.
MH: Welcome, Ashley! What is the Wakefield Recreation Association all about?
AD: Our philosophy is entirely based on community involvement. We want young and old and everyone in between participating and not just physically, we want all types of involvement. Our goal is to transform this community into a family.
MH: We know how tight the budgets can be in a small town community. We also know the importance of recreation in the health and wellness of our communities. How does the WRA balance increasing financial demands with limited financial resources?
AD: Another goal is to make this affordable as possible. We’ve dropped our prices to $20 per child for each sport and we lessen the amount by $5 for each additional child of the same family.
MH: How is the WRA organized?
AD: About 6 months ago, it was decided that the city would take over funding and manage the funds of the WRA. They would eliminate the treasurer’s position and have a board of three- A president, vice president, and secretary. Debbie Brown, AnnMarie Striggow, and myself were the only three who applied. I am the president, AnnMarie is Vice President, and Debbie is secretary.
MH: With the recent partnership with the Wakefield city government, have you made any changes to the core philosophy of the WRA?
AD: We discussed with the city council what the vision of WRA would look like. We decided that we wanted it to be an association for everyone-not just kids.
MH: Recreation for all! I like that. Can you give some examples of recent or upcoming WRA-sponsored activities?
AD: For adults, we’ve offered Open Gym, a Paint and Sip Night, and we’re getting ready to offer a 30 Day Get Fit for Summer Program. Our kids have been offered a fundamental basketball program, a soccer league, and we’re getting ready to run a baseball and softball fundamentals clinic on Sundays in April. We will be running baseball and softball leagues in the summer as well. Our vision for the fall is a spirit squad and flag football program.
MH: Paint and Sip Night? That sounds intriguing. Tell me more about that!
AD: We hired Gloria Fowles from Clay Center to come down and run two nights where people could paint a flower picture on a canvas and sip their choice of beverage. Our turnout was great. We filled 30 of the 40 spots for the two nights. We can’t wait to hold more events in the future!
MH: As a sports coach, I’m always interested in the fundamental goals of a youth sports programs. What goals do you aim for with the WRA youth sports activities?
AD: When it comes to athletics, our philosophy is to do our best to build players based on fundamentals and not playing games. Parents like games, kids like games, and we understand that, but fundamentals are what build athletes. We want strong capable athletes entering our junior high and high school programs at Wakefield.
MH: How about non-sports activities to build strong minds as well as strong bodies?
AD: For those not wanting to participate athletically, we are also planning to add more events like a book club and a card night. We’d like to launch these in the fall.
MH: Recreation is an important facet of community wellness and economic development. How important of a role has the WRA played in the Wakefield community over the years?
AD: As an alumnus of Wakefield, I can personally say this organization is near and dear to my heart. I grew up participating in the WRA program, and I want my sons to continue this tradition.
MH: I’m all about a “for the community, by the community.” philosophy in regards to improvements and activities in a small town. The success of these community-driven programs rides on the back of its sponsors, volunteers, and coaches. Who helps lift the WRA’s projects?
AD: I truly believe though “it takes a village” and we as an organization have been so blessed to have our high school and junior high coaches volunteer their time to coach. Who knows better what these kids need to be prepared than the coach who will be coaching them in a few short years? We couldn’t do it without our amazing volunteer coaches.
MH: How can the people of Clay County help the WRA succeed?
AD: We are always open to new ideas and would love to have anyone join us! Our meetings are the third Monday of each month at 6:00 and next month will start being held at the Wakefield City Building. For anyone interested in volunteering for our baseball/softball clinics, please contact me or attend our coaches meeting March 25 at 4:00 at the city building!
MH: For those interested in sponsoring or following WRA activities, how can they contact the WRA?
MH: Thank you, Ashley, for filling us in on the good things going on in Wakefield with the Wakefield Recreation Association. You and the WRA are doing things the right way. Best of luck as you grow and serve the community. Enjoy the ride!