The Loris Recreation Center Committee met on Monday, Sept. 16, at the Loris Chamber of Commerce conference room. Present at the meeting were recreation director Tom Cocke, Jan Vescovi, Terrence Hardee and Todd Harrelson.
Hardee provided the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The meeting began with updates on the baseball and softball fields, uniforms, field conditions, All Stars and reports on the recreation website (www.Loris.Rec.com).
New uniforms are provided to the cheering squads this year. The uniforms consist of a top and skorts which are similar to what the Loris High School cheering squads wear. This is exciting for the little Lions cheerleaders to feel more like a real cheerleader.
The department is awaiting the arrival of new equipment for the little Lions football players, two football blocking sleds will aid the players to perform better during a game. The donation of $2,500 for the equipment was given to the recreation department by Tom Cocke IV, and the director’s father. The sleds can be used for track, soccer, baseball and basketball athletes as well as football to help reach the explosiveness to reach speed.
The new website and management system is up and running. “I think it has been a big hit,” says Cocke, “over half the people registered and paid online for this year’s sports.” The convenience and efficiency for using the website to register is creating the child’s profile, providing a valid cell phone number that receives texts, uploading the birth certificate and making payments. The parents will not be required to come into the office. Those who wish to continue to come into the office are welcome; and anyone can bring the child’s birth certificate into the office if they do not feel comfortable uploading it.
The website provides valuable information to the parents with scheduling games. Virtual communication between registrants and the recreation department is available by choosing the chat box on the site. Also coaches can communicate with the player’s parents via text message of practice times and game information.
Fall sports has increased in numbers from 90 last year to 140 this year for football. Cheerleading went from 47 to 78 registered this year. Registration for soccer did not prevail this season due to lack of registration. Cocke said, “I attribute that to the Upward Program, many of our kids who play soccer go there to play, however, we also take all the football kids.” He stated that the possibility of moving the sport to another season may be in the future. “We moved volleyball, which is usually in the winter, but we moved it to the fall which is when everyone else is playing which helps with scheduling games;” said Cocke. “We moved basketball to Fall which increased our numbers.” He stated that our numbers have increased while Horry County has dropped football altogether with a decrease in participation.
The first football scrimmage game will be held at Heniford Field on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 9 a.m. The first games begin on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. There is no entry fee to watch the games. Cocke stated they would like parents to share their pictures and video of the games to place on the recreation social media sites.
Cocke stated the meat and potatoes of the meeting is to cover current and future projects
During last year’s hurricanes, light fixtures and poles on the ball fields were damaged, funding for the repair/replacement comes from FEMA; the city will not pay out of pocket. The new lights will be placed on fields 3, 4 and 1. Santee Cooper works pro bono to replace the bulbs the department purchases.
The scoreboards are outdated and nonworking, the parts are obsolete; quotes have been received to purchase new boards. Cocke said, “They will be a little bit bigger than the ones we currently have and will be baseball/softball specific sports which will have the score, inning, strikes, outs and a timer on them.” He stated they will be large enough for sponsorship signs to be placed on the scoreboard. He said, “We are looking to get local sponsorships from restaurants and businesses in Loris to place on the boards.” The boards are wireless and are blue-tooth equipped, the scorekeeper will use the cell phone to manage the information shown on the board. He said, “This actually saves money because we don’t have to supply wiring to each board and will not have to buy consoles that pretty much constantly break;” he continued, “this is a more improved way of monitoring the scoreboard.”
A request was made to receive quotes for additional fencing. It is in a few key areas at the park that will help with access control during tournaments. For the future when tournaments are scheduled it will help with gate entry and collecting fees. Cocke said, “It is our hope with many of these projects is to basically get to the point where we can host tournaments frequently, more so in the spring and summer.” Tournaments will bring in new revenue and to bring economic impact into the area. He said, “The more tournaments the more people will come to Loris and will eat at one of the restaurants and maybe shop here.” To accomplish the future plan includes upgrading the fencing and the scoreboards.
The parking lot will be re-lined on the asphalt area and thick wood poles will be placed at the grass area to prevent parking in the grass. The poles will be equipped with electrical sockets for lighting for the parking area and future plans to rent spaces to vendors at tournaments. The recreation staff will install the poles, and between each pole will be a waist high color chain. An example for another reason for the poles with electrical sockets is if a team pays $200 to enter a tournament, they can pay an additional $50 to rent a space with a 10 x 10 canapé and a trash can for the teams to meet. Cocke said another example may be any big event that would include vendors, such as if the chamber would like to have a farmer’s market or Easter egg hunt and any event with vendors the area will be set up and ready.
The concession stand renovation is another future plan. The LHS Marching Band contract ended and new ideas are coming into play. The recreation department is hoping to be able to staff and set up the concession stand with equipment necessary to keep foods hot and cold and cold drinks. Salaries will come out of the revenue made from the concession stand. The cost associated with renovation is purchasing the equipment; Cocke is presently working on the quote. The menu consists of hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, cotton candy, candy and drinks to name a few. He has contacted Di-n-Dots for them to provide a cooler to sell in individual prepackaged containers. An additional area will be built onto the structure protected with a concrete wall and fencing to have a grilling area. An outside grilling area will deem less costly as building codes require ventilation huts and fire extinguishers; grilling outdoors would eliminate the additional costs. At the present time during game time they will stock minimal items to purchase to keep costs low at the time. Most equipment purchased can be covered by the city’s hospitality funds. His vision is to purchase a used golf cart to deliver food and drinks where the spectators in the stands can purchase without missing the game.
Another purchase mandatory to cover tournaments is seating, Cocke is looking at the future. And the vision is the future of the recreation department is to be a highly functioning sports area for tournaments as well as the sports they offer to children ages 5 to 12 and to bring more people to the Loris area.