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Baseball 101 . . . Kids practice fielding in the foreground as a grounder
gets by one young t-baller. In the background, kids improve
their aim by throwing at rings hanging on the fence.
By Caroline Downs
Kids have plenty of options for summer fun in Kenmare.
And the fun begins with the Kenmare Recreation Board members who are appointed by the mayor, approved by the city council and charged with organizing, providing and supporting a variety of programs in town.
Their meetings are work sessions, their paychecks are non-existent, and most local residents couldn’t name even one of the members, much less all seven. However, their results are visible all summer long at the ball fields and the swimming pool.
“We need activities for the kids,” said Kenmare Recreation Board president Fay Froseth. “If we keep the kids busy and involved, they’re happier, too.”
Froseth agreed to serve on the Recreation Board because she values those opportunities for her own family.
“It’s about being out and socializing with your friends and establishing memories,” she said. “For new kids in town, it’s a way to meet people on the bus rides to ball games and biking up to the pool. It’s important to have that sense of community, and along the way, if the teams win a couple of games, it’s all the better!”
Nearly a hundred kids are trying to win those ball games this summer, with baseball and softball seasons in full swing now through mid-July.
The youngest children, ages 4 to 7, are welcome on the T-ball team, coached by Kody Keysor.
About 40 kids are playing T-ball this summer, according to Froseth. The young athletes work on their ball handling skills a couple of mornings each week, then play games on Thursday nights.
“That’s something new this year,” Froseth said about the night games. “We thought if we moved the games to an evening time, more parents can be there to watch their children play.”
Boys and girls in the upper elementary school grades are welcome on the Kenmare Pee Wees and Midgets teams. Coaches Brett Froseth and Tye Rasmusson, both KHS juniors, work with more than 30 players this summer, with games against Tioga, Crosby, Ray, Stanley, Mohall, Bowbells and Powers Lake on the schedule.
Older players, up to age 16, travel to Lansford for Babe Ruth practices this summer. Pastor John Fetterhoff is one of the co-coaches for the Renville County Mallards, featuring players from Kenmare and Mohall.
“We have a few dedicated boys on the team, and a dedicated coach,” said Fay Froseth. The Mallards play area teams, including Garrison, Crosby, Watford City and Makoti.
Girls who prefer the game at a different pace can participate on the slow-pitch softball teams. The high school girls have formed a co-op team with Bowbells, but over 20 elementary and junior high age players join Coach Seth Engelstad on the Kenmare field for practices and games during the week.
“It’s good to see them playing up there,” Froseth said.
She credits the high numbers of players to communication through the school, which shares information and flyers about the ball programs with parents so the teams can begin practicing as the school year ends.
“Also, kudos to [KHS custodian] Jerry Mickelsen who mows the fields for us,” said Froseth, “and to the school district, which allows us to use the mini-buses to take kids to games. Otherwise, we would have to buy a bus, and we don’t have enough money to buy a mower! Without the school allowing us to use their buses, we wouldn’t have as strong a program as we do.”
Fun in the sun . . . With the temperature rising above 80 degrees on Monday,
kids flocked to the swimming pool to get wet, have fun and keep cool.
Take a dip in the pool
The Kenmare Recreation Board became more directly involved this year with the operation and maintenance of the city swimming pool, which opened to the public on June 17th.
Erika Lemere, a longtime employee at the pool, started her position as manager this year. The pool is open from 1 to 5 pm every day, and between 7 and 9 pm Monday through Friday.
“We are also having swimming lessons available every week of the summer, including the week of the Fourth of July holiday,” Froseth said.
Lemere and Maria Hager, another experienced lifeguard and instructor, are teaching the swimming lessons, which started this week and will continue through August 9th.
Members of the Recreation Board were happy to get the pool operating again after harsh winter and spring conditions delayed the opening, but Froseth acknowledged problems with the facility would need attention in the near future.
She spoke with the Kenmare City Council earlier this month about several issues at the pool, including roof replacement, skylight repairs, improved lighting in the bathhouse and more. She also harbors a long-term goal to renovate the current facility or build an indoor pool that could be used year-round (see related article in this issue).
“For now, we’re happy to have what we have,” she said, “but we’d love to have a benefactor come along and help us!”
Other city rec activities
The ball teams and swimming pool may be the most visible of the Recreation Board’s endeavors, but other programs rely on the board as well. Froseth mentioned the Zumba classes, winter co-ed volleyball league and Kenmare Summer Arts Institute as examples of community activities administered by the Recreation Board.
“We don’t tell them how to run their programs or set fees for them,” she said, “but we hold the funds for them in our account.”
She laughed as she talked about a recent suggestion that the Recreation Board take over operation and maintenance of the city’s ice skating rink. “We are just a group of volunteers,” she said about the board members, “and we don’t have equipment to do anything at the rink!”
Froseth works with board members Tom Herman, Sharlet Jensen, Sue Rodin, Jim Anderson, Pete Stroklund and Kris Zimmer, who joined the board earlier in June. Rick Harris acts as the liaison between the Kenmare Park Board and the Recreation Board.
Persons who are interested in assisting with any recreation program or serving on the Recreation Board should contact Froseth at 848-6269.
“There are so many things people could do to help us,” she said. “We’re not going to turn anybody away!”