On Thursday, Greenville Parks and Recreation Director Brett Quarles stopped by to chat about some of the things that are going on in the city when it comes to recreation and community events, including bringing back the city’s Fourth of July celebration, which will be held on July 3 this year.
A 12-year veteran of the city of Greenville, Quarles grew up in Stephenville, where he learned to love parks and recreation from his father, who was that city’s parks and recreation director. During the hour-long interview, which can be watched on the Herald-Banner’s website or Facebook page, Quarles said he’s proud of the work that is being done in the city’s park and recreation department and is looking forward to growing programs. Here are three things we learned from Brett Quarles:
THE GROWTH OF YOUTH SPORTS
Quarles said the growth of youth sports continues to be a key driver, but no so much when it comes to the city’s own recreational leagues. The trend continues to be private clubs renting the city’s baseball and softball fields for tournaments, which do draw a large number of people to Greenville on any given weekend.
“We had a group out of Tyler book 12 or 15 dates,” Quarles said. “On those weekends, you’re probably going to bring in anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 people depending on the number of teams. Obviously, it’s impactful for our restaurants and our hotels.”
Quarles said part of the challenge for Greenville is the youth sports programs here have only been offered by the city for the last six years. Previously, it was managed by the YMCA, which is now defunct in Greenville.
“In the previous city where I was, the sports programs were there for 50 years,” Quarles said. “We’ve really seen a shift in the privatization of youth sports at all levels. The community rec programs are fizzling out. Everybody wants to be part of something they think is going to make their child better.”
THE PERFECT PARK
During the interview, we asked Quarles if City Manager Summer Spurlock gave him $50 million to build a new park what would he build?
“For us, our parks need more amenities,” Quarles said. “I think having something for everyone. Something where kids can play on the zip line, mom can take a walk on a trail and dad can go kick a soccer ball into the goal. So, for us, it’s having a big impact in small areas versus having to drive to one side of town for a specific kind of park, or from the pocket park perspective, and this is the maintenance person in me, we spend more time driving to each park as opposed to what it costs to maintain that. I like regional parks where it’s all in one place. It’s not like it was when we were kids when our parents would turn us loose and we’d ride our bikes 5 miles to the park. Parents don’t do that anymore.
THE RISE OF FLAG FOOTBALL
In Texas, where tackle football is still king, Quarles is a firm believer in the development of flag football, especially for girls and in the youth. The NFL is undertaking an effort to have girls’ flag football included as a varsity sport at high schools across the country.
“That gets me into a little bit of trouble, especially on the youth side,” Quarles said of advocating flag football versus tackle. “There are always those opinions about youth tackle versus flag. So, for me in Stephenville, (Coach Art Briles, who coached Quarles in high school) was also pro flag because you can run, catch and throw because if you can get me 250 athletes in seventh grade who can run, catch and throw they will figure out how to make it work. I think there are no studies that support that tackle football is a positive thing for youth from a development standpoint.”