By Danielle Church

Harker Heights Herald

Participation and programs at the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation athletics department have seen a dramatic increase since the early 2000s.

To prove it, Director of Parks and Recreation Jerry Bark, along with Recreation Superintendent Joe Brown, presented numerous charts displaying this increase to the Harker Heights City Council at a workshop Tuesday.

"It's been very busy," Bark said of the department.

A chart depicting youth sports participation shows a significant increase within the city.

In 2000, the number of registrants for youth baseball totaled 357. So far in 2011, that number skyrocketed to 882.

The number for fall soccer participation has also seen an increase with 738 registrants in 2010, up from 450 in 2000.

Other programs such as youth kickball and adult men's basketball have also seen an increase in participation.

The reason for the increases might be linked to the new facilities in the community, such as the $1.5 million fields constructed at Harker Heights Community Park last year.

During the workshop, City Manager Steve Carpenter said "there was a lack of (facilities) before."

Several other council members remarked about the effectiveness that facility maintenance, improvement and change have on keeping participation levels up year after year.

Brown said the city's aquatic pool has also helped participation increase.

A chart illustrating pool attendance so far this year was presented to the council. It showed more than 1,000 people used the facility June 4-10.

"The pool has been tasked from morning to afternoon daily," Brown said.

He also said new programs such as aqua zumba have been well received.

The athletics department has worked hard to market its programs - another reason for the increased participation.

Word-of-mouth and recreation guide exposure also have helped to promote the programs, Brown said.

He said the department is looking to expand and is currently in talks with the Waco affiliate of ESPN radio (1660 AM) to become part of it.

Contact Danielle Church at or (254) 501-7567.

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