Recreation director Traci Rollins reflects on first year at the helm – Baldwin County, Georgia

Traci Rollins

Baldwin County Parks & Recreation Director Traci Rollins adds some color to a planter to spruce things up on the opening day of baseball and softball season. Catherine Dean

Traci Rollins may be wrapping up her first year as director of recreation for Baldwin County, but her experience in the department can be traced back nearly two decades.

While still in college, she started as a scorekeeper for the recreational sports leagues and then was hired by the director at the time, Bill McNair, who retired last year, as the department’s secretary. From there, she moved to youth athletic coordinator supervising all youth sports, and after that position, she was promoted to assistant director.

“I love it here,” said Rollins. “I enjoy what I do, and I work with great people — it’s a good place to be.”

She said she learned a lot from McNair and added that he is quite missed by her and all the employees of the recreation department. She said she continues learning and growing in the director’s position.

Rollins is a person who is constantly in motion — fitting the perceived stereotype of a recreation director perfectly. Opening day of the baseball and softball season finds her packing planters with brightly colored flowers to add to the beauty of the already neatly manicured grounds.

“Some of this year’s highlights for me have been our efforts to beautify our spaces,” she said. “We have painted our complex building, installed a new gym floor, patched a lot of our walking tracks, including the one at Coopers Park, and done a lot of work at our Harrisburg Collins P. Lee Center — just putting my touch on things.”

Trying new things is also something Rollins said she has enjoyed about her first year, including bringing pickleball to Baldwin County. Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Two or four players use paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net. It was invented in the mid-1960s as a children’s game but has grown popular recently with all ages.

Rollins said pickleball is played several times a week in the recreation gymnasium and is very popular with senior citizens because it is low impact and can be played indoors during all types of weather. Other popular activities with seniors are badminton and walking — also held inside the gym.

“We are now just trying to think outside the box. Your typical sports that include baseball, softball and basketball are all still popular, but people seem to want something a bit different. We’re trying to keep up with the times,” she said.

Although baseball is still a sport that boys gravitate toward, Rollins said she had seen a decrease in the number of girls playing softball. She believes that dance and cheerleading are currently a very popular activity for girls, which is fine with her because it is still recreation.

Soccer is a sport that has seen continued growth in Baldwin County, according to Rollins. She said it remains popular with boys and girls and the leagues grow yearly.

For the upcoming summer, Rollins said that the recreation department will partner with the Baldwin County School System’s summer program. She noted that instead of competing with each other’s programs, they will work together to provide great activities for the county’s children during summer break.

“We will be renting time at the Georgia College pool, located at the Centennial Center, and offering swimming lessons through the recreation department,” she noted. “The first lesson is June 4, and there will be four two-week sessions each costing $30. I think this is wonderful for Baldwin County because kids really do need to learn how to swim.”

Looking back over her first year as director, Rollins said she is happy with how it has unfolded. She said that she could not see herself anywhere else because of her love of kids and sports. She said she believes that the recreation department is an asset to the county and that more residents should take advantage of it.

“Come out and try your hand badminton, pickleball, or basketball. Take a stroll on our walking track or fish in our great pond or feed the ducks-this is an awesome facility and we invite all to enjoy it and all that it offers.”

For more information on the Baldwin County Recreation Department, call 478-445-0785 or visit their Facebook page @baldwinrec1.

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