Haywood County Recreation and Parks is a slam dunk
Though the Haywood County Recreation and Parks Department is a fairly new department, it has several programs available for people of all ages.
The Haywood County Recreation Basketball League, for ages 5-15, has been going since the end of last year and will continue until March 1.
"There are 28 teams,” said Daniel Taylor, recreation specialist. “The majority of which are 9-10 year-olds."
Each team practices for one hour each week, and games are held every Saturday at the Waynesville Recreation Center. It's too late to sign up, but the public is invited to watch and cheer on the teams.
"Basketball increases physical activity county-wide," said Claire Carlton, director. "Kids get to meet other kids from around the county and develop friendships they may not have had the opportunity to before. And it’s great for the parents, especially those new to the county. It’s a very social activity."
Then there’s Adult Indoor Coed Soccer for participants 18 and older of all skill levels, which is cosponsored by the American Youth Soccer Organization.
Teams meet from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday through March 24 at the Old Hazelwood Gym at 216 Virginia Avenue. The cost to participate is $3 per session. Games were slated to begin Jan. 20, but "we haven’t been able to do it because it's been snowing," said Taylor.
Game nights will not be held if Haywood County Schools are closed due to inclement weather, but make-up games will be held at the end of the season.
"We’ve been doing [indoor soccer] for years," said Carlton. “It’s been very successful."
And this small department has some big ideas for the future.
"We want to offer flag football for kids and adults," said Carlton. "We’d love to know if there’s any interest in that."
"We’d also like to do a mud run," said Taylor. A mud run is an event that involves running through a series of obstacle courses where some of the obstacles involve mud.
"Another idea we’ve kicked around is a 'small fry tri,' a triathlon for little kids," said Carlton.
At some point in the spring, the department will host a bicycle workshop in coordination with BicycleHaywoodNC.
"We want to offer a cycling workshop for ages 15 and older," said Carlton. “We want to get people out and about cycling."
Still in the planning stages, the event will offer sessions about general maintenance, riding skills, hand signals and how to ride safely in groups or individually. There are two classes planned to take place in Waynesville and two classes in Canton.
"Some people are fearful of getting on public roads," said Carlton. "That’s what we want to promote."
In addition to youth basketball, indoor soccer and their plans for the future, the department also runs Senior Games and the Happy Wanders program; Carlton and Taylor have their hands full.
"We’re a small, fairly new department," said Carlton. "We were reinstated in 2000 after being nonexistent for 25 years."
Carlton began her career in public recreation in 1981, right out of college, and she enjoys what she does.
"It is a true service," said Carlton. "We’re one of the few county offices people enjoy coming to," she said, jokingly.
Taylor came to Haywood County last May after seeing a job listing on the North Carolina Parks and Recreation website. Originally from the Outer Banks, Taylor is a graduate of Appalachian State University. He, too, finds great satisfaction in his job.
"I love planning events and activities for all ages and being rewarded by the smiles of those who participate or the high-fives of children," said Taylor.
For more information about the Haywood County Recreation and Parks Department, call 452-6789, or visit www.haywoodnc.net.