By R. Alan Richardson
If you’re not on the VIP list to attend the Morgan County Recreation Department’s Volunteer Award Banquet, you don’t know what you’re missing. As part of a tough sportswriter’s beat, my job is that of being “required” to attend this event. It’s sad. I know that Patrick Yost forces me to go to the banquet each year that includes a T-bone steak that would feed a family of four, a baked potato as big as your head, and all the fixin’s that go along with it. Green beans, macaroni and cheese, bread, desserts that will make your head swim, and all you can eat salad bars. It’s a thankless job. All of this is served up courtesy of the MCRD and Twin Lakes for the hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, and others that make our county’s recreation department one of the best in the state.
My volunteer days ended many moons ago when I coached little league and pony league all-star teams under the tutelage and slave-driving taskmaster Bill Wood during my college days. It’s still OK by me to include me as a member of the press from the Morgan County Citizen.
The MCRD Director is Lance Alexander. He and his staff put on another fine evening of thanks and recognition for all those that serve. He said, “It was a great night of food and fellowship for all of our volunteers and sponsors who make the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Services such a huge success!”
Alexander noted, “The purpose of this night is to brag on our volunteers who tirelessly give of their time coaching and investing in the lives of our youngsters in the county. Many of them coach every sport throughout the year.”
Some of those individuals were honored throughout the evening. They included the Volunteers-of-the-Year. Jay Doss made a couple of statements before the awards were handed out. He quoted Elizabeth Andrews, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” Those individuals were Jim Strickland, Lyndsi Jackson, and Brent Rhodes.
He then gave out the sponsors-of-the year to Lake Oconee Elks Lodge, G&H Services, and Lee Nunn Farm and Fences. Alexander chimed in with his thanks. “All of our sponsors give freely to our programs financially to keep the costs down for our kids. We couldn’t do what we do without these folks. They are a blessing to all of us. We are fortunate to have the facilities we have.”
Coach Kelly Brown was recognized as one highlight of the evening for her ceaseless volunteer service as the Community Impact Award recipient. Brown, according to Alexander, has served and been highly involved as a volunteer for over 28 years with the primary intramural track meet that is held annually through the MCRD.
Alexander went on to discuss what is happening with new facilities on the horizon. “We are highly excited about the opening of the new soccer complex in early 2019. We are anticipating our soccer participation to explode over the next few years.” The slideshow and overhead photos of the upcoming facility were highly impressive.
He also went on to brag on the Morgan County Aquatic Center. “Our current facility is at capacity usage with over 100 birthday parties per year, swim programs for all ages, and high schools using the facility year-round. We offer a swim team for the county (Marlins), aerobics, the Morgan County High School Swim Team, water classes, and swim meets. There are also high schools from outside our county that rent the facility for their practices and meets as well. This makes for an exciting place.”
Special guests Bill and Kathy Wood were introduced and thanked for their many years of serving the community. Alexander said, “These two have left a huge footprint on recreation in Morgan County for the past 44 years. Ricky Cochran told me that when he was working here in 1980, the first volunteer banquet was held under Wood’s supervision.” Someone said that Mr. Wood started as early as 1976 serving, but I personally can tell you he’s served much longer than that. I played for the old ball coach on his first-ever baseball volunteer team as a 12-year-old on the Rutledge Little League team in 1969. As Anne Stamps once said, “Bill Wood coached Jesus.”
Doss had a great line for the evening’s finale. “I played for Mr. Harold Malcom. I will never forget the one thing he taught me. ‘Always hit the cutoff man’.” You just never know how far your influence as a volunteer coach will go. As Alexander put it, “You may not always have the best team, a winning record, or coach the all-star team, but it’s more than just a game. You may be dealing with kids from broken homes, wealthy homes, those with confidence issues, and more. It’s about being where you should be at a particular time in your life and theirs. We thank you all for that. Because of all of you the future is bright for the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Department. We can’t wait to see what’s next.”