Activities coordinator hopes to bring new ideas, consistency to city sports

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By Deidre Wilson

The city of LaFollette hired Chris Smith its activities coordinator in October and tasked him with overseeing the recreation department’s basketball leagues.

Smith has worked with the parks and recreation department since 2008.

The city does not operate the baseball and soccer leagues that use the city’s facilities.

Because of this, Smith is not as hands-on with their operations as he is with the baseball leagues.

There are roughly 400 children between the ages of 5 and 13 that currently play on the city’s youth basketball teams, which began tournament play this week.

One thing LaFollette brought back was a basketball league for high school age players.

“They did it many years ago, and we picked it back up. It’s been several years since we’ve had a high school league,” Smith said.

“There were just so many people over the age of 14 who still wanted to play.”

There is also a men’s basketball league, which just ended a season and will begin a new one in March.

“Anything we get enough teams to do, we’ll do it. That’s not the issue. It’s just getting the kids that want to participate out to do it,” he said.

Smith said one new thing he hopes to do this year is offer basketball and baseball camps.

“Just to give the kids something to do over the summer,” Smith said.

He said he is also considering starting a youth flag football league.

“I know they have little league football, and we wouldn’t schedule over top of that. I was just trying to give the kids a different option for something to do,” Smith said.

He said some kids might prefer flag football to try the sport since there is less contact involved.

“It’s not pads and all that. You’re pulling flags. You’re not actually going out and tackling. For the parent that’s cautious about the way football is going as far as concussions and stuff like that — not to say you couldn’t get a concussion in flag football, because you very well could,” he said.

“It’s just a different option. You have some of these smaller guys who don’t want to play football because of the contact who grow up to be very good football players later on, so it just kind of gives them a chance to learn the skills.”

He said the city also once had a volleyball league, and he hopes to bring that back as well.

“If we can get enough kids to get out and participate in volleyball, then, by all means, we’ll get it up and going,” Smith said.

“Really just anything sports-wise we can get these kids out doing.”

One of his main goals is to bring consistency to all of the leagues.

“We’re trying to just keep it consistent. That’s one of our bigger things, so kids know what’s coming up, know what they can do, so when the next year rolls around, it’s the same thing,” Smith said.