Pam Brethauer remembers when she had to beg teams to enter the adult recreational volleyball leagues sponsored by the Craig Parks and Recreation Department.
This week, 20 teams in two leagues completed their championship tournaments, proving that adults enjoy competing in sporting competitions just as much as children do.
But the Craig Parks and Recreation Department has to choose carefully which programs it wants to offer. The department's budget has remained flat for several years, and the department has to decide whether to allocate resources to activities exclusively for children or include adults.
Even though programs such as volleyball are fee-based, someone has to coordinate the league, sign up teams, collect their money, schedule games and tournaments, line up referees and monitor the gym. That someone is Pam Brethauer. It would be easy for the department to say it's not worth Brethauer's time to program a league in which only a fraction of Craig's adult population participates.
But for the nearly 150 adults who participated in the fall volleyball league, Brethauer is the league's MVP. Game night is something all players look forward to. The games provide an opportunity to leave the stress of the work week behind for an hour, get some exercise and socialize with teammates and opponents. The players would say it's an important quality of life amenity. And since they're willing to pay for the opportunity to play, who could argue that it's a waste of Brethauer's time?
We don't have a recreation center in Craig, so the department has to coordinate activities with local schools. A pick-up men's basketball league had to be scrapped this year when CMS converted its wrestling room to classroom space. Because the wrestling team now practices in the gymnasium, it eliminated the opportunity to hold games there.
That will change about Feb. 1, when the Boys and Girls Club of Craig completes renovations on its gymnasium. The city will use the space to offer volleyball, basketball and other activities, Brethauer said.
More teams have expressed interest in playing volleyball, so Brethauer likely will have enough teams for a third league in the spring. And the men's basketball open gym hour finally should get off the ground. We think those kinds of opportunities enrich people's lives in immeasurable ways and deserve the department's support. We're happy to see the department has factored Craig's adult population into their recreational offerings because the enjoyment of athletics competition shouldn't end when a person graduates from high school.
As for the volleyball league, it appears to be growing, and Brethauer, for one, is excited about it. She plays in the league herself. What doesn't thrill her are the ultra-competitive players who take games too seriously.
They know who they are.
They might be mild-mannered and friendly at the office, but turn them loose on the volleyball court and suddenly they're Bobby Knights screaming at teammates to make a play and questioning the officials' calls.
Brethauer reminds players that the referees have a thankless job. Players should remember that screaming at the official jeopardizes their willingness to continue working games, which only hurts the league.
"If everybody had to referee, they would have a new outlook on referees," Brethauer said. "They would probably keep their mouths shut and not get on a referee for any kind of call. It's a lot harder than it looks."