Let’s take a look at all the activities we have to be thankful for and the facilities to house them (apologies if any have been forgotten):
• Baseball/Softball – Combined these programs have 17 fields with lights. Five fields each at Tyus and Ambucs Park with another four lighted fields at Volunteer Park. The last three lighted fields are at City Park and Fairmont Park.
• Basketball – City Park, Fairmont Park, and Ambucs Park are all great places for youth leagues and pick-up games to join in on hoops during the day or night.
• Football – Volunteer Park alone allows for most of the youth football program to participate under lights throughout the season with two lighted fields.
• Skateboarding – The Grind is a unique innovative opportunity for allowing youth looking to push themselves in the sport of skateboarding to have a legal place to participate and express themselves.
• Soccer – One of the fastest growing sports in the country (besides lacrosse) and the largest program in Spalding County with over 600 boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 18 has seven top notch fields. The fields are manicured comparatively to some of the best in the state. However, only ONE of these fields is currently has lights.
• Tennis – City Park allows six courts with lights for play during day or night.
• Walking/Running – We boast four tracks with lights making it possible to get your heart rate up at all hours day or night.
Here is where the conversation changes slightly about opportunities. Thankfully kids and adults have the opportunity to participate day or night in walking/running, football, basketball, baseball/softball, tennis and skateboarding. It feels good to say our citizens have what they need to grow and it would not
See Pasch/Page A13
be right to take that away from anybody. Our youth need many opportunities to try different sports. Understandably, each sport can be beneficial in terms of developing attributes of good, well-rounded student athletes. Just think about some of the great home grown athletes right here in this county. Have we lost any “crops” in the past? What other potential greats are beginning to sprout on our fields now?
Can we say that the same growth opportunities, day or night, are provided for our youth interested in participating in soccer?
Supporters of soccer and all youth sports should ask questions when considering what can be done to alleviate the disproportional opportunity for growth on a lighted field. The tax revenue and potential new residents would far outweigh the cost to provide one or two more lighted fields at Tyus Park for youth soccer players in Spalding County.
Are we alone in our endeavor to provide youth soccer as an option to our citizens?
All we need to do is to look around at Henry County, Fayette County, Peachtree City, Clayton, and Pike. Henry County at the new Mt. Carmel Complex contains 14 lighted fields. Fayette County’s McCurry Park North/South has 12 fields. Peachtree City, also in Fayette County, has 10 Fields between the South 74 Soccer Complex and the smaller Glenloch Recreation Center. Our neighbors to the north, in Clayton County, have four lighted full sized fields. Finally, our neighbors to the south in Pike County have two fields with lights.
What are the financial implications?
Many of these facilities are hosting soccer tournaments and other related events that bring in visitors from all over the state and in some cases the region. These visitors spend money in local hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and businesses creating additional tax revenue to help us improve our county.
(Joel Pasch, the former head boys soccer coach at Griffin High School, currently works as a coach/trainer for the Griffin Youth Soccer Association.)