LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – Lawton’s new Youth Sports Authority has been hard at work, electing organizational officers and establishing subcommittees.
So far, the Youth Sports Authority has established two subcommittees, programs and facilities. Now, the search is on for an operator who can bring more focus to youth sports in Lawton.
Nine members who are volunteers serve on the Youth Sports Authority. Chairman Brian Henry says they won’t be involved in day-to-day operations but oversee big picture items.
By July, he hopes to hire an operator who can start getting tournaments set up.
“Baseball tournaments, softball tournaments, potentially basketball tournaments, maybe league tournaments that they just don’t have the manpower to staff and run right now,” Henry said. “I think it provides a focus that should then turn around and increase participation, visibility and offerings to the kids in our community.”
Krista Ratliff is a mother of three boys who play sports in Lawton.
She’s also serving as the authority’s treasurer and on the programs subcommittee.
Ratliff says when her family moved back to Lawton, they experienced many different entities managing youth sports, which could be confusing at times.
“If you swam, you may swim at one location. If you play football, you may be governed by a different body, so we’re excited because the sports authority will bring a lot of that under the same umbrella,” Ratliff said. “You’ll have the same registration process, the same experience, the practice field. All of that will be covered under that.”
The subcommittees will help transition youth sports management from the City of Lawton to the authority, which Ratliff expects to provide more organization.
“We want to make sure that we give them the resources and the tools they need to be able to play sports in our community, whether it’s swimming or tennis or golf, whatever sports,” Ratliff said. “Football, flag football. That way we can keep kids engaged and active, make a peer group, have friends but also just to be able to have something to do in our community.”
Lawton City Council has already approved a Youth Sports Complex being placed in Elmer Thomas Park.
Many citizens have raised concerns about the location, but Henry said the complex will only take up two acres in the 160 acre park, less than one percent of the park.
“Imagine a world where you take the kid to your practice or the game and you go down to the splash pad or to the kid zone and you never have to move the car again,” Henry said. “You just walk down there, walk back, so I think it creates a unity potential that putting it somewhere else might not create.”
He also notes that more parking will need to be developed but said 70 percent of it is already there.
The next Youth Sports Authority meeting will be at 2 p.m. on April 14 at City Hall.
Copyright 2022 KSWO. All rights reserved.