Date: June 21, 2010    Place: Village Hall Training Room

Time: 6:15 p.m.

Commissioners:  Brault, Crowley, Murdock
Staff: Grisamore, Bingham, Bowen, Lambrecht; Wilson; Donoghue, Groves, Specht, Miller, Pilecki, Rome
Visitors: See Attached
Topics for Discussion:

1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Manager’s Reports
5) Old Business
a) Eagles Tackle Football
b) Paddle Tennis Survey Firms
6) New Business
7) Adjourn

Discussions/Decisions Made:

1) The meeting was called to order at 6:15 pm.

2) The Committee approved the minutes of June 21, 2010 by general consent.

3) Under Communications and Correspondence, the Committee recognized a letter from Ellis & Associates stating that the lakefront’s lifeguard staff was awarded their “Silver International Aquatic Safety Award”.

4) Under Manager’s Reports, Jeff Groves reported summer camps began June 14. The camps are being held at Central, Wilmette Junior High, Harper, District 39 schools, the Community Recreation Center (CRC), Centennial Tennis, and Gillson Park. The CIT program for children age 12 to 14 has its largest enrollment on record. The participants are trained on how to become counselors and also participate in fun activities. There are five busses in use all of the time. Three are borrowed from District 37 and two are Park District busses. They are on the move all of the time either going on field trips or transporting campers to the pool, beach or other locations. Adult men’s 16” softball has 13 teams and Girls 14” softball has eight teams. Sand volleyball is also doing very well with ten teams and staff is keeping track of additional people wanting to join teams.

Holly Specht reported there had been a lot of staff training prior to the beach opening on Memorial Day weekend and they have worked with other communities for power boat and sailing training. The Sailing Beach space rentals currently stand at 426 boats. There are many kayaks and requests have been made to allow more than one kayak in a board boat space. Staff will review the current policy and make recommendations as part of the budgeting process. Aquatics Camp is doing well with 255 enrolled. The new morning session this year has 52 participants. The Wilmette Police have been very helpful in enforcing ordinances and have confiscated a lot of alcohol. They have also handled the removal of unfriendly people. There was a bad thunderstorm on Friday, June 18, resulting in a number of catamarans being flipped over. Some boat owners refuse to tie down the backs of their boats. As of this weekend, there have been 650 Resident daily admissions and 300 Fair Share admissions at Gillson plus 3,500 season pass swipes. At Langdon Park, there have been 150 Resident and 72 Fair Share daily admissions plus 282 season pass swipes. The new PDA’s being used at the gates have worked well when staff handles them correctly. Superintendent Bingham added the technology that staff has been using has also been very helpful in improving customer service.

5) a)   Commissioner Crowley introduced discussion relative to the Eagles Football Program. He stated he wanted the discussion to be productive and that the Committee and staff were there to listen to suggestions on how to improve the program. He introduced the Recreation staff involved with the program. Jim Rome provided some background on the program. It has been in existence for over 40 years and competes in the Suburban Youth Football League. The House League which includes fourth and fifth graders has four teams. The Travel program which includes sixth, seventh, and eighth graders has six fly-weight teams and seven mid-weight and heavy-weight teams. Staff has been working on improving communication with the participants. End-of-the-year evaluation forms were sent to the users. The Park District recently took over management of the Eagles website and will be developing it in the next couple of months. Staff is also working on further communication improvements that are facilitated by the new registration system now in use. Jim Rome added that the objectives of the program are to teach fundamental skills including blocking and tackling. If done properly, they are prepared to go onto the next level after they leave our program. Staff is always anxious to hear from parents if they have concerns. Staff works hard to teach safe playing practices, monitor playing times and resolve coaching issues. Dick Miller added that staff emphasizes to the coaches the importance of monitoring playing time. The key is to talk to parents and children at the end of a game and hopefully receive input from them. Usually when there is a problem with a coach, they are able to work them out when they talk to them. Learning is the key role in this program – not wins and losses. Superintendent Bingham elaborated on the year-end survey which was sent electronically and by mail. A total of 32 paper forms were returned and 34 electronic responses were received out of 200. Staff reviewed all of the responses. One of the key elements was to improve communication including improving the website and experimenting with the use of Facebook.

Commissioner Brault asked who participates in the league. Jim Rome responded that the Central Suburban Youth Football League is comprised of teams from Wilmette, Deerfield, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Niles West, Northbrook, Skokie, and Winnetka. He added that Skokie may leave the league. The teams are grouped by High School Districts so they are all represented. Staff tried to expand the league but the Catholic schools developed teams that played each other. The overall philosophy is the same across all of the teams in the league. Games are scheduled so that half are at home and half are away. The home field is the New Trier West practice field which is leased. They have a Jamboree on opening and closing days of the season. At the end of the season, the teams with the best record in the league play each other. There is no playing time requirement. The goal is to have every child play as much as possible. They also work to make sure a child is not placed in an over-matched situation. They have trainers at all games that work with the players. There is a code of conduct for coaches and a discipline system in place. The coach’s main job is to teach and the referees are all IHSA certified. The league does operate clinics that they have tried to make mandatory. Commissioner Crowley asked how they recruit coaches. Dick Miller responded that most of the coaches are parents in the league. When dealing with volunteer coaches, there is a variety of skill levels. It is very important that they have the ability to connect with the children. In some game situations, it is sometimes difficult to get all 39 children on a team in the game every time. Staff had discussed using paid coaches but that doesn’t necessarily always work out. They are often “gung ho” and not good teachers for the age group being worked with. It would be very difficult to run the program without the volunteers.

Commissioner Brault opened the floor to those in attendance to discuss how to make the program better:

Dana Palmer has coached for three seasons and in a number of organizations including Wilmette Baseball and Wilmette Hockey over the years. His children have been participating in the house league and he feels the communication has been bad and is concerned that some of the players won’t be returning. Information needs to get out before the end of school in the spring – word of mouth is not good enough.

Joel Raynes stated that Wilmette Baseball sends out e-mails all the time beginning in December with information – sometimes maybe too much. There has to be a good median between that extreme and the lack of information they have received in the past.

Dick Miller responded they used to have spring parent meetings but they were always poorly attended. Staff is working hard to improve the communications with the parents and children. Commissioner Brault added that with the capabilities of the new registration system for communications via e-mail and the new website, the ability to communicate is far better than it was a year ago.

Tim Fox has an eighth grader in the program and the staff has been running the program well for many years. The best thing is to tweak the program and improve it. Maybe have fliers available at second semester parent/teacher conferences or other events. It is not always easy for Dick and Jim to get everyone to play. It can be a hazardous sport and if you have a child who is not a good player he could be a risk to the other children. There should be three divisions once teams are established. It would be helpful if contact lists were made available to coaches for communication purposes.

Bob Dekker stated his son had played since fourth grade and is now in eighth grade. There has been a lot of confusing information being distributed. He has received e-mails from the Trevian Football Program stating there won’t be enough children in the heavyweight division to field teams in the Eagles program. He is afraid that the Trevians may have already recruited players from our program. He is concerned that since only ten people showed up for the meeting that it isn’t a true representation of the concern for the Eagles program. He has heard that at least ten players in the heavyweight division have changed programs. He added that the fourth and fifth grade program in the house league was a positive experience. However, when his son was in sixth grade it was not a good experience due to problems with coaching style. Issues that occurred in the past may have created problems for the program this year. He believes that coaches training should be made mandatory.

Dick Miller stated the program had a whole group of sixth graders but they never know ahead of time if they will have enough players to field a team in any program. The Eagles track record shows they average over 200 for over ten years. If ten children leave from the heavyweight division it would be a problem. However, staff has made changes in the coaching situation which was of a personal nature. If people are leaving the Eagles program because of what they are hearing at little league games, then they may be leaving under false pretenses.

A visitor asked why the program doesn’t have early bird registration which would give some indication in the spring if there was sufficient interest in the program divisions. Jim Rome responded they haven’t done it in the past since a child can change weight categories from spring to fall. Superintendent Bingham added they are continually looking for ways to improve the program and boost participation. Dick Miller added that staff has always felt if non-residents sign up for the Eagles program people are encouraged to join the team in their local community, assuming there is a team.
Dan McGuire stated he has coached in the house league for three years and one cannot find a better football learning experience for fourth and fifth graders because of Dick Miller. His training gives Wilmette an edge over other programs. If you look ahead at High School programs, New Trier is losing participation in football and Glenbrook South and Maine South are getting better. The competitive level of the travel program should be improved. Some parents over-program their kids. Children age 12 and 13 were fine but those age 8-10 didn’t always want to play. All programs should come together to support the New Trier Football Program along with the new coach. If they have a bad experience in local programs, they will not want to play in high school.

John Manchester stated he had coached for two years for the Eagles program and has also worked in multiple sports wherein they would always work on basics and skills. There is a challenge between winning and learning. Sometimes it seemed a win was more important than playing time. Wilmette Baseball does send too many e-mails so there is such a thing as over-communication. There are also many other distractions for this age group such as academics, lacrosse, all-year baseball and video games. Children need to view football as a great sport and enjoy playing it. Maybe it is important to increase interest in the program in the spring and perhaps also important for all local programs to feed children into the Trevian program. 

A visitor added that it is important to hold on to good coaches and provide incentives to participate such as offering other programs or facilities.

Mark Rice addressed the Committee as head of the Trevian Football program. Their program is an affiliate of the Glencoe Park District and they consider their program a higher level one. They also recognize that many children get turned off on football or are not good players due to bad coaching. Their football program is a “no-cut” one and it is hard to get good coaches. They have developed and participated in good coaching associations. In their program, they have already started practices and state that they are against winning at all costs. They are working hard to improve participation in their program. It would be nice to combine the programs and move the better players to the upper level and leave the lesser players in the local programs. They have drawn way more of Wilmette players due to the bad experience they had on all levels. Children in their program total a minimum of eight plays. If that didn’t happen they would not want to participate.

Executive Director Grisamore responded there is a lower fee charged for Wilmette residents for the Trevian program equal to what their fee would be for the Eagles. The Trevian program is heavily recruiting from other programs. Mark Rice added that they have tried to work with the Wilmette staff and offered to let their coaches participate in their coaching clinics.

Dick Miller added that there is no single feeder program for New Trier High School. The marketing by the Trevian program has indicated that it is a feeder for the school. Most years the Wilmette program has been very good although there have been a few disgruntled people. The staff’s philosophy has been to offer a good playing experience. Commissioner Brault stated they see some of the same challenges in other sports. It is important to look at all programs and change or evolve as the times change.

Mark Rice stated they are affiliated with the Glencoe Park District. They are not a contractor to them but an affiliate of the park district and are listed in their brochures. They do actively recruit from other programs because they want to work together to offer a better experience across all suburbs. Executive Director Grisamore added that the Trevians certainly do recruit when they charge $300 for Wilmette residents and everyone else pays $630.

Commissioner Crowley responded he had seen many e-mails between Mr. Rice and Mr. Rome. He thought they were not done well and not in good taste. He feels the issue has become very confusing and that it needs to be resolved even if it means getting the Administrative Staff involved.

Commissioner Murdock stated he didn’t want his oldest son to participate in the house league at first. However, his son did want to participate, has learned a lot and has played every game. He chose to play in eighth grade and became a starting fullback. His third son played beginning in fourth grade. The Eagles program is an important part of the community. He has seen a lot of saturation of over-participation and some families go to extremes so their children can play. Communication within the program had been disappointing in the past but the situation could be easily improved. The communications that have transpired over the past couple of weeks between the two program representatives is not a good indicator for either program.

Commissioner Brault thanked the people in attendance for their comments. There are a lot of items for staff to work on including communication and possibly equipment.

 b)   Superintendent Bingham stated staff had received three proposals to conduct surveys of the community relative to Platform Tennis.
• Results Technology would perform an all e-mail survey and would charge $10,400 plus the cost of mail lists.
• Leisure Vision had two options. The first would include mailing surveys via postal service to 400 people and then following up with phone calls. The second would be to do the same for 500 people. The cost for either would be $1,500.
• Fako would conduct the survey entirely by phone polling. They would charge $6,700 for 300 and $8,700 for 500 calls.

Commissioner Murdock asked if staff had a feeling for what the correct methodology would be. Commissioner Brault asked what the survey would do and would it be to validate the information already gathered. He felt that Leisure Vision would be best at the 400 level. He did not feel that Results Technology using all e-mail would be statistically reliable. He felt that Fako could spend a lot of time getting busy signals. The purpose of the survey requested by the Park Board would be to see if the unscientific survey of only Park District users would be borne out throughout the community. The survey would determine if there was adequate support for paddle tennis courts and hut. Commissioner Murdock stated he is worried that people would just take lessons and maybe not join a league. There has to be enough support to make it financially viable. Commissioner Crowley added that he was not sure a new survey was necessary. Executive Director Grisamore asked what the timing would be. He thought it would have to wait until fall. He added that he had been approached by the Glenview Park District. They are working with Northbrook to build a new facility and that if Wilmette was interested, they would consider Wilmette residents as residents for their platform tennis facility. The Committee unanimously voted against participation. After further discussion, the Committee felt that if the Park Board wants to do a survey that Leisure Vision should be the choice. Staff reiterated that the purpose of the survey was to validate the responses from the general population and not just from Park District program participants. Executive Director Grisamore was directed by the Committee to contact the other Park Board members and ask if they would like to do a survey or hold public hearings on the topic to discuss the report and possible locations. Staff stated that they have a concern that if the hearings on platform tennis are held at the same time in the fall as the Lakefront plan hearings, that could paralyze both issues.

6) Staff presented a few permits for the Committee’s review:

• A request from St. Joseph’s to hold a cross country meet at Gillson Park on October 14 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. After some discussion it was approved. 

• A request from the Winnetka Bible Church for 100 to 120 people on Saturday, July 24 or Sunday, August 15. Staff recommends that it not be approved due to the time of year.

• A request by the YMCA for a campout in Gillson Park on October 2 and 15. After some discussion, the Committee approved the request. 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Minutes taken by Bill Lambrecht