It was a dream for Peter Kirsch, a place for kids in the Crowley community to gather and share their love of sports.
“This is where these kids get their first lesson in civic pride, teamwork, accountability, responsibility, and it really joins the community together,” Kirsch, director of the Tony Robichaux Sports Complex, said. “They come from different schools, backgrounds, and walks of life. For an hour and half that day or two hours that day, they are teammates, they are one unit. That is where they learn to work together to a common goal.”
When he became director of the complex, Kirsch wanted to make that dream a reality.
“It was a new administration, new council, and they had recognized that something needed to be done,” Kirsch said. “At that time, they gave me the freedom to run wild, put together a wish list of what I’d like to see and see done and let’s start the conversation.”
That conversation started with replacing traditional grass with turf, a big expense, but one that could pay for itself in the long run.
“We have three high schools and a college that use our facilities, you get a one- or two-inch rain and you might by washed out for two or three days,” Kirsch said. “Then the expense of getting the field turned over, the long term affects and all of those off-season repairs that need to be done, it adds up.”
The next step was to fix the outdated lighting system, upgrading concession stands, and bathrooms.
“What we did was something unique, we retrofitted our property and fields with artificial turf and services,” Kirsch said. “We didn’t acquire property or bulldoze anything. We still give you that small town feel, we’re spread out, there trees and grass–things all over.”
While other towns his size may gear their complexes to the masses, hosting tournaments nearly every weekend, fueling the economy; Kirsch and his team take a different approach and appeal to the people living right here in the community and surrounding areas of Acadia Parish.
“Our future is, we want to see our local programming grow,” Kirsch said. “That’s our goal, community first and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. This was an economic development project that involved a recreation upgrade for us.
Our kids in Crowley are reaping the benefits of that. That’s what it was for…that’s our core and why we do what we do is to provide a service for the kids of Crowley. The tournaments and out of town visitors and sales tax increases are the methods by which we fund it for our kids.”
Kirsch said there is still much to do in the coming years, but this is a great start, one that continues to bring a community together.