Meeting The Challenge
Taking care of nine kids at home, 3,000 at work
By Fred Engh
Growing up inArizona, Monty Perkins fell in love with sports at an early age. He participated in baseball, football, and basketball among others, although he didn’t have the luxury of his parents cheering for him in the stands very often.
“My parents, who had 12 children, were very hard workers, and were unable to be at my games most of the time,” recalls Perkins. “I didn’t completely understand it then, but I certainly do now. For my children, I try to make every game that I possibly can.”
That’s more challenging than it sounds. In addition to having nine children of his own, Perkins has been the Event Coordinator/League and School Liaison for Smyrna Parks & Recreation inTennesseefor 13 years, where he has played a key role in helping ensure that more than 3,000 children who participate in its youth programs have fun and safe experiences.
Perkins had a lot to say regarding the ever-challenging job of providing top-quality sports programs for children:
What is the best advice you ever received that has helped you perform your job better?
Monty: My dad always said to be good to people because you never know when you will need their help. I try to follow that advice to this day. You cannot do it all yourself, so it is great to be surrounded by good people.
What is the worst display of sportsmanship you have seen in your program, and how was the situation addressed?
Monty: Sadly, it involved the mothers of opposing players arguing about their sons’ game. The confrontation ended in a shoving match. They were warned immediately that they had violated the Parents Code of Ethics. Ultimately, they were suspended from watching their sons’ games at the complex for two consecutive games.
If you were made czar of youth sports nationwide for a day, what is the first thing you would change?
Monty: Most likely, I would not change anything. In a perfect world, there would not be coaches, parents, or others getting out of control at a child’s game. Parents can be a coach’s biggest problem. There are cases where a parent’s ego is fed from the success of a son or daughter, and that is too bad. As a parent of many children, I have been on every side of the issue. Unfortunately, this problem has been around for years and will likely continue in the future. All we can do is work hard to educate those who need it, and hold those accountable for their actions in a swift manner.
What led you to choose a career in recreation?
Monty: I retired from the Navy and grew up with a passion for recreation and sports. Having been involved in sports during my entire life, it just seemed like the right fit.
What is the worst day on the job you have ever had?
Monty: I don’t like to look at something being the “worst.” Realistically, there are days I would like to go better, but I have to make the best of what I have. Although it is not always easy to stay upbeat and positive, it is something to strive for.
What is the best idea you or your staff has come up with, and how has it impacted your youth-sports programming?
Monty: I feel the implementation of coaching certification and background-check completion on prospective coaches is of the utmost importance. Staying the course on both of these standards has helped the department and the youth leagues to ensure the best possible coach is out on the field or court.
Fred Engh is founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) inWest Palm Beach,Fla. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To join more than 3,000 communities by starting a NAYS chapter, visit www.nays.org or contact Emmy Martinez at email@example.com or (800) 729-2057.