LEMOORE — Twenty-three years ago the Lemoore Youth Sports Foundation Board was created and built the Lemoore Youth Sports Complex two years later.
The foundation turned over management of the complex to the city of Lemoore on June 30 and began a five-year lease agreement.
The Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department has planned an event at the complex on Saturday morning.
The event will be held from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and will include comments from community leaders and will honor three people to the Youth Sports Complex Hall of Fame – John Hodgson, Leah Forte and Cindy Smith, who were key people in starting the Youth Sports Complex.
The park was initially created to give a home to the Lemoore Youth Softball Association and the Lemoore Youth Soccer League.
Hodgson joined forces with then president of the softball association, Forte, to create the sports foundation and then submitted a plan to the city and made the dream of a sports complex for Lemoore youth a reality.
The park is west of the Cinnamon Municipal Complex and has six softball fields and up to 10 soccer fields. On the grounds, there are also restrooms, concession stands, a parking area and storage for maintenance equipment.
The sports foundation made the decision to give management of the complex to the city on March 22.
Forte said the decision was made because the board trusted current city management to continue managing the complex in a way that helps the youth of Lemoore.
She also noted that Jason Glick, the parks and recreation director, has experience in running a complex like it.
She also said that a big deciding factor was that the city would agree to keep the complex as a youth-only complex.
The foundation will continue to help the city in programming and fundraising for the complex.
Hodgson and Forte agree that the complex would not be possible without the help of various volunteers.
Hodgson said that the current lights were built by West Hills College students with pipes provided by Olivera Farms.
“We had so many people that helped build the complex,” Hodgson said.
Although grateful for those who helped get it started, Hodgson said a great amount of credit should be given to Joe Correia, Frank Bernhardt and Richard Smith, who helped in maintaining the facilities.
Forte fears that volunteering has lessened in the community of Lemoore. She said that volunteers are essential to maintaining many youth programs.
“The kids are the ones that lose out [without volunteers],” Forte said.
Looking forward, Forte said the city may incorporate more sports like baseball and football to the complex.
Hodgson said that the Youth Sports Complex Hall of Fame was a tradition that they started and disappeared as time went on.
For more information about the event Saturday, contact the Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department at 924-6767.