North Ridgeville

The North Ridgeville Parks and Recreation Department has been considering bringing back into existence a baseball and softball commission.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fougerousse, the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the possibility during recent meetings.

During a telephone interview, Fougerousse said there is sometimes a lack of communication between league coordinators, volunteers and the department.

“I strive to meet with them on a monthly basis,” he explained of interaction between the Parks and Recreation Department and others involved in the program. “But unfortunately, due to the fact that no formal guidelines or bylaws have been in place for about five years now, it’s one of those things where you can’t hold people accountable.”

The department hopes that bringing back a baseball and softball commission will bring more structure and cohesiveness to the department, programs and a multitude of volunteers, who he said help out immensely during the season to properly provide information to coaches and parents.

Fougerousse said he isn’t sure why baseball and softball commissioners were abolished in years past.

The first step in bringing back commissioners is to examine the current by-laws to see what makes sense and works, Fougerousse said.

“I’ve put out some of my feelers with colleagues at the (Ohio Parks and Recreation Association) and some of my fellow colleagues with whom I’ve worked with, who have commissions on hand, to see how they utilize those commissions that oversee their programs,” he said.

Fougerousse, who came to the North Ridgeville Parks and Recreation Department after working in departments in Fairview Park and Vandalia, said the city of Vandalia had baseball and softball commissioners.

“Their program is big and they had something like 700 kids in it,” he said of Vandalia’s baseball and softball program. “In Fairview Park they didn’t have commissioners because they were only looking at 250 kids with about 20 coaches.”

Cities such as Fairview Park, which have smaller programs, are easier to manage, Fougerousse said, as compared to cities like North Ridgeville, which has more than 60 teams with multiple coaches and parent volunteers.

“We have to be able to get that word out immediately,” he said of notifying all parties involved in the baseball and softball program.

The idea of bringing back a baseball and softball commission is mainly about ensuring that everyone is on the same page, Fougerousse said.

“The department will still be the overseer of the program,” he said. “I don’t want it to be like they aren’t going to have a say. They have a say now. There has just really never been a formalized board in place for at least the past five years, but it is something that is needed.”

Bringing back baseball and softball commissioners does require Parks and Recreation Commission approval, and he said the group has been receptive to the idea.

“My biggest thing is, they won’t come in with their own personal agendas,” Fougerousse said of future baseball and softball commissioners. “It’s not about how you got slighted, or how you want to go into a program and put your stamp on it to ensure it never happens again. It’s about the entire program from T-ball all the way up to the e’s and majors program. It’s not about personal agendas.”

He hopes a baseball and softball commission will be in place by next season, but first the Parks and Recreation Commission will have to hash out a proper plan during work sessions.

“We’ll have to discuss the bylaws to make sure they are complete and understood,” he said. “And we’ll have to have open discussions with the current league coordinators to let them know what we’re moving towards.”

Part of having a baseball and softball commission would involve monthly meetings that would start sometime before the season, Fougerousse said, and more accountability would be brought into the program.

“Everybody just needs to be aware of what’s going on (in the program) and the biggest thing is communication,” he said. “If you don’t have that it doesn’t help. We’ve shored some of this up, but not all of it. Communication is something that you can always get better at.”

Baseball and softball commissioners would be interviewed by Fougerousse and the president- elect of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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