Jennifer Lewis was recently honored as the 2018 Youth Sports Staff Member of the Year by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association (mParks).
Lewis started her involvement with the department at just 6-years-old, when she began running in its former track club program.
At 14-years-old, after spending eight years in the program as an athlete, Lewis began coaching the track club program when a coach resigned.
Today, more than 20 years later, Lewis, an Oxford resident, still brings the same level of excitement and involvement to Oxford Parks and Recreation in every role she’s held, according to Recreation Supervisor Daniel Sullivan.
“Jenny is a phenomenal worker and she does a great job with our younger groups. She’s a great person and a great employee. She is always there, always ready, and always willing to run programs,” Sullivan said.
Lewis currently works with some of Oxford Parks and Recreation’s youngest athletes by coaching the Pee Wee sports program, Kiddie Kickers program and its youth volleyball program.
Lewis has coached and supervised a variety of sports programs for many different age-ranges in the past, including Oxford Parks and Recreation’s soccer league, its flag football program, hockey and basketball programs, along with various day camp programs.
“There’s not much here that Jenny hasn’t been associated with at some point in time,” Sullivan added.
Throughout her entire career, Lewis, who now holds a full-time job on top of her part-time position at Oxford Parks and Recreation, said she has only called for one substitute coach.
“Even if I work a double on a Friday night… if I’m dragging or cranky getting there on a Saturday morning, the first couple kids that pop out of that car on a Saturday morning are always just so excited and ready to go and it refreshes me,” Lewis said. “They are just darling. To see their excitement over exercise and something new… it’s just rewarding and fun.”
Although many people find it intimidating to coach young children, Lewis said she enjoys having the opportunity to show kids how exciting and rewarding participation in sports can be.
Through its reasonable fees, Oxford Parks and Recreation has kept sports and a healthy lifestyle affordable and accessible to everyone in the community, according to Lewis.
Lewis said this, along with her fellow staff members, has kept her motivated to stay involved with the organization for so many years.
“I’m honored and I’m so pleased, but I’d like to give a lot of the credit back to Oxford Parks and Rec. I’m just an employee out on the site and I feel like I bring a lot of my passion and energy for the sports, but we have an incredible staff behind the scenes that’s doing all of the footwork to make the programs happen,” Lewis said. “I was very flattered and humbled by it, but it’s also good for the community. We have an amazing community here and I’m just a piece of it.”
Lewis added that she wanted to thank local parents for their support and commitment to teaching their kids to live a healthy lifestyle through their involvement in the various programs at Oxford Parks and Recreation.
“I want to put emphasis on families that are out there every single weekend introducing their kids to this and making things so enjoyable and the amazing staff.
“The parents are out there in the cold and the wet, trudging through it to make this experience for their kids and to make this a habit in their lives and I just get to play a part in it,” Lewis added.