BOUNTIFUL—Participation in youth sports has constantly increased in recent years, with the advent of some new sports added to the popularity of traditional ones. The numbers have grown, but the actual fields of play have basically remained the same.
Throw in practice times in addition to actual games or matches, and scheduling of those fields of dreams has become more and more challenging.
The situation has improved greatly in Bountiful thanks to an overall sense of cooperation between teams and leagues, and an improved scheduling system being used by the Bountiful Parks Department.
“Last fall, we met with a group of individuals representing Bountiful youth baseball to discuss the scheduling and field use practices and policies,” said Brock Hill, parks director for Bountiful City. “We reviewed the different groups that use playing fields in the city and analyzed what was and wasn’t working with regards to scheduling. Then we put a plan in motion that would work for all groups in all sports.”
The key, Hill said, was better communication. That’s been largely accomplished with the Athletic Field Reservation Calendar on the city’s website. It allows leagues to reserve fields through proposals they can submit twice a year. That’s allowed more organizations to make reservations.
“It’s also allowed us to drill down to what they need, rather than them just making a blanket request,” Hill said. “As a result, we’ve been able to bring some new organizations into the program.”
Hill and his staff have also met face-to-face with league officials, “bringing them in from different organizations so they can get to know each other. I think that has really helped them in seeing each other’s needs. It became more personal with that interaction.”
The Mueller Park Baseball Association serves 60 teams and has worked with the city for decades. Hill said the cooperation with the association has been great.
“Part of the agreement we have with them is they help with maintenance of the fields,” he said. “The city maintains the irrigation and the turf, but they help with cutting the lining for the baselines and changing the soil for the infields. Those kinds of agreements are a huge help to us with all the playing fields we’re responsible for.”
Hill said one rumor he dispels is that the Davis School District won’t allow teams to use their fields.
“That has never been the case with the school district. They do require a reservation to be there if you don’t want to be moved off the field when they show up to do maintenance, but that’s just common courtesy,” he said.
The schedule of athletic fields is readily visible on the city website. Associations can submit written requests via email for reserving fields as available.
In addition to baseball, there are soccer and lacrosse programs wanting field time each summer. And fall brings little league football as well.
“It works well when everyone works together,” Hill said. “That’s been the case and it makes our job of accommodating everyone’s need a lot easier.”