Parks and Rec sports supervisor Monica Vega watches kids play basketball at the courts near the rec office Tuesday afternoon. L&T photo/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Sports provide a variety of activities for people of all ages to enjoy in life, and Liberal’s Park and Rec office offers many of those sports to local people.
Liberal native Monica Vega is now in charge of outlining sporting events for the community through Parks and Rec.
Vega, a 2007 graduate of Liberal High School, was hired in April to become the new sports supervisor in the city department, and after finishing her LHS education, where she enjoyed time on the playing field, she continued her sporting life at the next level, playing soccer at Cowley County Community College.
Vega then transferred to K-State in Manhattan, where she finished up a bachelor’s degree in mass communication in December. While at K-State, she worked in the school’s sports information office.
“I helped with the media and the preparations of all the games,” she said. “I did that for about two years, and then, I got this job.”
The new sports supervisor played many sports in high school, including track, basketball and soccer, and at K-State, she was involved with intermural sports.
“I’m a big fan of mostly all sports,” she said. “When I decided to go into the PR field, I really wanted to concentrate on doing something in sports.”
The summer season is in the air, and with it comes many people getting outside to enjoy fresh air. Vega said the sports department of Parks and Rec has something for everyone to take part in this summer.
“We’re working on youth baseball leagues right now,” she said. “We have the adult softball leagues, men, women and co-ed. We’re trying to implement a soccer camp by the end of the summer as well for the youth.”
The 2012-2013 school year recently ended, and Vega said with the new school year starting in August, youth could become involved in cheerleading, flag football and soccer.
“We’ll have little league basketball, and that will come up right after football and volleyball as well as adult volleyball,” she said. “I’m trying to bring back the Punt, Pass and Kick program. I’m really excited about doing that, and that will be in September when I set up the date.”
Vega said she has plans for programs for adults as well.
“I would like to do an adult flag football tournament or an adult flag football league and get that started,” she said. “I know that they’ve tried to get it started before, but they haven’t been able to get enough teams. I really want to try to do that. I think that’d be really fun.”
Vega said she likewise has plans for things both adults and kids to do together.
“I think it would be nice to have more marathons, half marathons,” she said. “I think that would be fun here in the community and something that could be really possible to work on. Right now, I’m just trying to get fully adjusted to it before I try to do much.”
Vega said every sport brings new challenges as a supervisor.
“It’s just different every season,” she said. “I started with women’s basketball and soccer, which was a lot slower than softball and youth ball.”
With many adults working during the week, Vega said many of Parks and Rec’s activities would be centered on the weekend, but league sports could be done on weekdays as a way to better utilize facilities.
“Sometimes, during sporting season, they’re not getting used,” she said.
Vega one thing many people don’t realize is that Parks and Rec has after school activities for children.
“They can come in and just hang out while they wait for their friends to come pick them up,” she said. “They have a place to go. It’s fun. They know they’re safe.”
Vega said in addition to the basketball courts outside the Parks and Rec office in Blue Bonnet Park and activities available inside the office, there are also things for people to do in terms of sports across the street in North Blue Bonnet Park.
“There’s the batting cages,” she said. “There’s Grif Golf.”
Vega said one of her biggest goals with her new job is to promote events better.
“I would want more people to get involved,” she said. “I think that’s a big goal. We have a lot of kids, but I want it to be more. Not just the kids, but getting more coaches involved, more parents involved so we can actually keep the programs running. I can’t have 100 kids and only have three coaches. I think getting them involved is a big goal as well.”
Vega said she has personal goals she would like to accomplish as well.
“As a sports supervisor, I want to grow and learn more about my community, learn more about my work ethic, just learn more of where I’m going in the future and my future goals with this job,” she said.
Vega said she would also like to see new sports events offered at Parks and Rec.
“I think it would be awesome if we could get other sports we don’t think about here,” she said. “We just go with what the high school has or with what the middle school has.”
As a sports supervisor, Vega said she wears many hats.
“They call it a working supervisor,” she said. “As much as I’m in here answering calls, answering questions, making up schedules, getting roster set up for the teams, I’m out there as well. I’m supervising the game, what’s going on. If one of my umpires doesn’t show up, I’ll have to step in and take his spot. It’s a lot of little jobs – turning on the lights, making sure the facilities are open on time, making sure people are getting there on time. There’s the bigger jobs like scheduling and fundraising for your programs and getting the word out and the promoting of the programs. I like to think of as a job where I can learn about everything.”