Big League Opportunity with Aquatics Programming and Community Experts
by Mark Rauterkus, 412-481-2497,
TRA's new General Manager & Advocate for Sports
This paper explores some of the recreation, instructional and competitive programs offered within the city. Some of the programs are hosted by the city itself. The Aquatics Division has its mission, and another recreation department, more instructional and competitive, is the Big Leage programs. Other programs are hosted by non-city agencies that exist within Pittsburgh, such as with the Three Rivers Aquatics competitive swim team, (TRA).
Finally, Pittsburgh Pubic Schools provides another slew of opportunities for enhanced swimming programs. Those facilities can't be overlooked either, if we really want what is best for our kids.
Great untapped potential exists if only the Aquatics Division, the Big Leage program and out-side experts could be put into better harmony. New programs, growth and great levels of excitment can touch many adults and kids in and around Pittsburgh if Mark Rauterkus is given some freedom and support to from Aquatics and Big Leagues for such endeavors.
It is the opinion of some that better organization and better programming are possible. Given the lengh and depth of the discussions each year at City Council, it is fair to say that all of the city council members have strong opinions about the swim pools. In general terms, I think widespread agreement would support the notion that the pools and swim programs can be and should be upgraded so as to provide better opportunities for the citizens. The methods of financing these aquatics programs would make for debate, to be sure, but the possibilities for changes and enhancements exist. These changes might include some additional
privatization, agressive marketing, community ownership-stake-holders and even some user-fees endeavors.
Perhaps a way to increase the quality of the opportunities is to re-examine the interplay among the Big League Programs, the Aquatics Division, and our outside groups, such as TRA (Three Rivers Aquatics). The outside groups have specialized interests and motivations in aquatics programming.
With a few modest areas of change, the Big League program can expand into some pilot programming opportunities that have been not explored before within the city. The Big League office can work with the Aquatics Division and with some outside specialized leadership to make this occur in the summer of 2000.
Let's propose and work to create a few specialized centers for:
- competitive swimming,
- masters swimming,
- water polo, and
- underwater hockey.
Other considerations and information are presented as a way to begin the dialog and planning, well in advance of budget considerations. These programs are going to cost very little, but they will be a significant enhancement the offerings to the citizens.
Beyond Baseball at Big Leagues
The City of Pittsburgh's Big League program began with baseball. Of course this is no surprise, as baseball is Lou's passion. It takes a driven leader to make programs successful. Today, the Big League program has grown to include much more than the famous and popular "Rookie Ball."
Kids play baseball at all ages, softball, Air-It-Out NFL-sponsored Flag Football, Deck Hockey and other sports too.
Open Swims / Lap Swims
The bulk of the city's aquatics program deals with lifeguarding, staffing the facilities and keeping everyone at all the 32 city-run pools safe and happy. Pittsburgh's diverse facilities and its diverse populations make for a challenges in operation that the aquatic's staff handles with the highest-regards and professional outcomes.
Instructional and Competitive Aspects:
The city's aquatics programs have swim lessons (some free and other for a user fee) and some swim teams. Most of the swim teams are free. New water festivals and some new equipment such as water basketball have been given to the pools in recent years.
There are some aquatic exercise classes at the Oliver Bath House and perhaps at some of the other outdoor pools.
Outside the City Sponsored Programs, TRA
The Three Rivers Aquatic team practices at Oliver Bath House and Highland Park Pool, but these programs are NOT administered by the city. Rather TRA is a separate organization that has its own management, fees, payroll, coaches and sponsorships.
Other competitive swim teams exist too, such as Team Pittsburgh (PITT) and the Jewish Community Center Sailfish.
Areas of Synergy with TRA and the City Aquatics Program
As the TRA program are offered to city kids, and as the program is a success (hopefully more so than in the past) the city's Park's Department realizes some significant benefits to its overall mission.
The TRA team, like the others, offers basic instructional programs to those who can already pass a deep water test. Participants generally need to have swimming lessons before advancing to the swim team.
An attracitve TRA experience is going to help drive more people into the lesson programs.
The TRA team members are often a prime area for the recruitment of city lifeguards. Many city lifeguards on the staff now have been members of the TRA team, as well as its prior name, the D.P.R. (Department of Recreation) team.
End of draft:
108 South 12th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
New Role: General Manager of Three Rivers Aquatics
Hosea Holder is still the Emeritus Head Coach for TRA.