FLORENCE, S.C. -- The recreational sports scene in Florence is healthy and vibrant, says Darlene Buchanan, city of Florence Recreation Division manager.
But even when things are going well, there always is a wish list in the rec sports world: more people. People to coach, people to officiate, people to serve on boards for the respective rec sports leagues around town.
“We are always looking for volunteers,” Buchanan said, “and volunteers can come in the forms of coaches and officials, yes, but also in the form of parents who want to take field trips with us and tutors who want to help us with after-school tutoring programs and things like that.”
That’s a little reminder that the city’s recreation program is not only about helping kids achieve on the fields of play but also in other aspects of life.
But the sports are often what draw people into the city’s programs.
Buchanan said 2017 was a strong year for the city’s gymnastics program, among others.
The quality of training improved, she said, for both the recreation program and the team. The team had several first-place and podium finishes. She said the growth of the recreation program will continue to be a priority, with the program maintaining a minimum of 200 participants. At one point in 2017, that number reached 300.
Overall, participation in youth athletics has continued to grow, according to Buchanan. In 2017, the city had 583 participate in baseball, 436 in football, 455 in basketball and 288 in track and cross country.
With the new soccer complex off U.S. 76 near I-95, soccer participation has increased from 318 to 405. The soccer complex conducted its opening ceremony on Feb. 15, and the Florence Soccer Association had an open house on Feb. 17. Since then, the complex has hosted soccer select games, the Bruin Cup high school tournament and recreational games.