After years of jointly offering youth sports in El Dorado, then a change in that agreement this past year that left the YMCA not offering youth baseball last summer, the El Dorado Recreation Advisory Board and El Dorado YMCA are working on a joint plan to offer youth sports.
“I believe we are all here because we all care about our community and doing what we believe is in the best interest of our youth participants in our programs,” said Kevin Wishart, El Dorado Recreation and Parks director. “We know that there’s been good history and not so good history between our two programs. Where we go from here is kind of what we are trying to determine tonight and what direction we take.”
“Our main objective,” added YMCA Executive Director Ben Coffey, “is to approach this with a blank canvas. With a lot of what ifs. We want to investigate serving the community a little better.”
“Our joint goal is to keep this focused on today and the future,” Wishart said.
Rec Board Member Loren Anthony asked how the Andover YMCA works with the Andover Rec.
Coffey said it is similar to what was done here in the past.
Rec Board Member Russ McCaig also asked about what each program needs to be successful.
“From the Y’s side, what do you guys need to stay successful and productive?” he asked. “As a rec board what do we need to stay busy and successful where we can both serve he community and one is not losing or hurting the other one?”
Coffey said in order for them to become profitable in some of their sports they would almost have to double their current capacity.
Rec Board Member Miles Harvey said they would have to look at how they judge success.
He said in addition to looking at the number of participants, they also should look at how many start and finish a sport. He asked if they could get numbers of participants going back 10 years from both entities.
“To me if we boil it down, success means we have more kids participating, more kids finishing the season and we provide multiple opportunities for them to participate,” Harvey said.
City Commissioner Bill Young added they also need to look at how many kids return to a sport the next year, something that is not as easy to measure.
YMCA Board Member Jim Wilson agreed they need to look at how to increase numbers.
Currently, there are a lot of questions for parents about whether they should sign up at the Y or the Rec.
Page 2 of 3 - “Right now the community is in a state of confusion and some didn’t sign up,” McCaig said.
“It’s our goal to have every resident participate in El Dorado play in El Dorado,” Wishart said.
He added that the rec staff believes if they had all the participants in El Dorado playing here, the teams would be better balanced and there would be a fairly competitive league.
Anthony also asked if the Y had any inner branch competition. Locally, it is just in track.
The new field at the middle school also was a factor in the discussion. The field will be striped for football, baseball and soccer.
“The turf was put in to serve the most amount of kids possible,” Coffey said. “I don’t think we can do that without these two groups coming together.”
McCaig said to keep both programs productive, they would have to look at where they draw lines.
“In my mind, to a majority of people the Y seems more like a development, teaching program,” he said. “I think the only way to do it is to look at age group. That way we don’t get a mix of classmates with half going here and half going there.”
Coffey agreed that was probably the easiest solution.
Another possibility was to be sport specific for each program.
He challenged the group to look at it as one program, El Dorado sports, and to use the resources everyone has to serve the kids.
Anthony suggested they would need to coordinate rules with all age groups so they move up seamlessly.
They also discussed coaches clinics, with the suggestion they have joint coaches clinics to get the benefit of the resources the Y has to bring in someone who has expertise to do the training.
“If we all have kind of a common goal, kind of a followed curriculum the coaches have as they teach kids the fundamentals, it makes it easier to divide up the program in age groups between the Y and Rec,” Young said. “You’re teaching coaches to coach in the same way.”
Wilson said a positive aspect to that is coaches may want to move up with their own kids and they would have that common core knowledge.
Another way Coffey proposed them working together was with the Y helping assist in providing staffing at the rec gyms so there was an increased opportunity for people to play basketball.
The group agreed they wanted to have a plan in place before spring sports rolled around.
Page 3 of 3 - Another thing they want to address is public perception that the competition level of the Y is different than the Rec.
Rhodes said he did not think that was a true today as historically, but he thought they needed to address that.
Wishart said there are a number of things that need to fall into place for a plan, including how coaches are selected and teams are formed, all of which needs to be consistent from the beginning.
The group agreed they wanted to get the numbers on participants before the next meeting so they could discuss that, as well as bring their own ideas to the meeting. After discussion on if the meeting would be open if held at the YMCA rather than City Hall, it was pointed out any time the Rec Board meets it has to be a public meeting. They set the next meeting for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at City Hall.