LaRee Bumgarner, Wahpeton’s Recreation Director for the past 19 years, is retiring. She will be doing what she loves and the envy of other grandparents as she will help raise daughter Lachelle and son-in-law Aaron’s children in Atlanta, Georgia.

LaRee moved from Beach, North Dakota near Montana and stepped seamlessly to lead our baseball, softball, football, volleyball, track-field, soccer, basketball and tennis programs.

Youth sports tournaments are among LaRee’s strengths. There is considerable time and organization invested. There are many early mornings, late nights and full weekends.

For basketball tournaments, there is much coordination with the schools, who have been outstanding partners. Some tournaments have attracted over 40 teams, bringing hundreds of visitors to Wahpeton and considerable economic/tourism dollars. Every single game needs two referees, scoreboard operator and bookkeeper. Gyms are set up the night before and cleaned immediately after the last whistle. Restaurants need to be alerted beforehand so they can hire extra help for the influx of business.

The upcoming Cal Ripken 12U State Tournament is a present example. Fourteen teams will be playing and every large North Dakota city is represented. LaRee does a phenomenal job with a full-color booklet complete with ads. It is art-like. Pool-play brackets are documented well-in-advance and sent to coaches. She works with volunteer parents to prepare an exhaustive four-day schedule of announcers, groundskeepers, scorekeepers and other volunteers. A memorable Opening Ceremonies is always planned.

Every office has someone who is considered the computer tech and LaRee has been that person. Admittedly, it can become too easy to say LaRee can take care of that when dealing with the web site, Facebook and other social media. Much of the registration nowadays, like Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Baseball is completely online. She has been at the forefront of programs and activities that are entered and paid online.

Partnerships with the Elks Hoop Shoot and Major League Baseball’s Pitch-Hit-Run Contest has resulted in area youths having lifetime opportunities to attend regional and national contests.

Girls fastpitch softball was a sport that gained considerable interest during LaRee’s career and has seen outstanding growth. There has been a great working relationship with the Breckenridge program and resulting Twin Town teams.

LaRee has worked well with many youth sports supervisors over the years, including Jim Sturdevant / football, Toviao Hopkins / football and baseball, Kelly McNary / baseball, Amanda Lunsetter / tennis, Courtney Mann / soccer, Angela Cordy / Playpark and Larry Lasch / track and field. She is on the phone or smartphone often with Mike McCall / Wahpeton Public Schools Athletic Director. Schools are maximized for open gym and youth sports practices.

Youth sports coaches are hired and trained. Volunteer parent coaches are recruited for youth football and basketball programs. There is always an emphasis on coaches training for the benefit of our children and putting volunteers in position where they can be successful. Many schedules are carefully thought out and prepared.

A parks and recreation office means some knowledge about lots of things like the arts, Special Olympics, picnic shelters, camping, zoo, forestry, horseshoes, garden plots, fishing and trails. LaRee managed the Rosemeade Chalet for winter recreation, including supervising the attendant and hiring supervisors for the open gym program from October through March.

More than the technical aspects of the Recreation Director position is the importance of having a positive attitude and friendly personality dealing with the public and LaRee has been exemplary with customer relations. Public recreation responsibilities include communicating with parents passionate about their children’s activities and competitive adult sports participants.

We are accepting applications for the position until Friday, July 31. There will be an interview process and we hope to have an incoming Recreation Director in place by Oct. 1 to train with LaRee for a month.

We wish LaRee the best of luck down south and thank her for all the wonderful years she worked as Recreation Director for the Wahpeton Park Board.

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