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Ken’s Column: Sumter County sports in great shape thanks to SCPRD

On Tuesday, April 3, the Sumter County 10u All-Star basketball team was honored at the Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ monthly work session for winning the Georgia Recreation & Parks Association (GRPA) 10u state championship back in March.

It was a tremendous achievement by head coach Dwight Harris and those fine young men. I believe that the success that the Sumter County Parks & Recreation Department (SCPRD) is having will pay off dividends in a few years when these young athletes hit the high school level. This isn’t just true for basketball. It is true for football, baseball, soccer and track & field as well.

All four of our area high schools, Americus-Sumter, Southland Academy, Schley County and Furlow Charter will benefit greatly from the work that Tim Estes and his staff have done, are doing and will do at SCPRD. It is a competitive atmosphere in SCPRD sports, but Estes and his staff make sure that the kids are having fun as well.

The kids develop a love for their favorite sport and stick with it in high school. Many kids will play multiple sports, as they should. The SCPRD is the place where the kids can improve their skills to the point where they will become outstanding athletes in high school.

The success of the Americus-Sumter boys’ basketball team, the Schley County baseball and football teams and the success of athletics at Southland Academy can be directly attributed to the work done at SCPRD. They provide a healthy, fun environment in which the kids can enjoy sports and thrive. The kids develop a love for sports and a desire to be better. Furlow Charter will also be heard from in a few years. Having seen the talent on their middle school soccer teams, I believe that they may very well have a strong varsity boys and girls soccer program in a few years.

The work that Estes, Harris, Jeff Fussell and the rest of the staff at SCPRD do is outstanding. It has paid off on the court and on the field. It will pay off in the community as well because these kids are being taught life skills and not just athletic skills.

Perhaps in seven years, the 10u boys’ basketball team that won a state championship in March might bring Americus-Sumter a state title as well. That very nearly happened for the Panthers this past season. The fact that they came so close is a testament to the work that was done some 7-10 years ago at the recreation level by the SCPRD. They will continue to do great work. They will continue to produce not only good athletes that will compete for championships, but good citizens who will go on to do great things in life.

Ken Gustafson is the sports editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at Ken.gustafson@americustimesrecorder.com or call 229-924-2751.