OPINION I’ve been active in sports programs in our community since 1975. We’ve made strides, but there have been many changes since 2008 when the Village Parks & Recreation Department became involved in its management. Our increased population calls for some serious rethinking of how we allocate resources to athletics — both youth and adult.
It is now 2023. After many different incarnations over the years, our Village now relies on the Village Athletics Advisory Board which handles both youth and adult programs. Director of Parks and Recreation Todd Hofferberth attends each meeting providing minutes and agendas. Its members are appointed by the Village Council. The meetings are televised to keep this from getting too contentious.
Originally, the diverse members were to serve for two years. Today, the board has some members who have served for over five years. The leader is longtime youth sports adviser Glenn Waldman who also served as President of the KBAC and is now approaching 15 years as Chair of the VAAB. (Full disclosure, I served on the VAAB until 2015 and resigned in an effort to encourage new people to be appointed. My efforts failed).
Recently a special meeting was held “Sports Programs & Fields Workshop” to encourage community input. The question was asked “Do all these kids live on Key Biscayne?” An innocent question which implies an ugly solution. “How can we be sure all these kids live on Key Biscayne?”
Instead of behaving like the Rio Grande Border Patrol, checking ZIP codes, let us act like adults and facilitate youth sports.
The root of the gripe is that the diversity of youth sports has declined and there is still not enough field space. After attending the “Sports Programs & Fields Workshop” it is clear to me that you can’t solve the problem of turf with the same leaders of the last 20+ years leading the conversation.
That night at the “Sports Programs & Fields Workshop,” someone asked the same question that I remember posing in 2008: Why doesn’t The Key Biscayne Community Center hire an Athletics Director? Someone to make tough decisions. Isn’t it time to step back and get some objective decision making and stop pretending that the Village is going to acquire more field space.
Although three very large fields lie between Key Biscayne and Virginia Key, our community cannot use them. Crandon Park, once used for adult softball, youth baseball and soccer practices can no longer use the fields for organized athletics. Historical Virginia Key
Beach Park has field space, but the grass is not in good condition. It would need to be remediated which takes money and would not guarantee exclusive use for Key Biscayne residents.
Guy Forchion, former Executive Director for the Historical Virginia Key Beach Park repeatedly stated that he envisioned the park could be like the Central Park of Miami giving downtown Miami much needed green space for its residents.
With some time and space away as an organizer, a few thoughts came to my mind. Each school on Key Biscayne has a field, why not encourage each school to develop an after school soccer program?
These teams could play friendly games at Crandon Park or Virginia Key against other intramural teams from the Roads or Brickell then spend some family time at the beach. Only coaches, no referees, no lines, just cones followed by a day at the beach with a team BBQ. A wonderful, healthy way to appreciate our parks.
In addition, each car would pay for entrance and parking by encouraging families to buy annual pass. The same model could be used for T-Ball and flag football.
Let’s all lace up our cleats and get some new ideas so children can just play.