Mt. Lebanon’s Sports Advisory Board, formed this spring, is charged with advising Mt. Lebanon Commission on how to improve the sports programming and facilities in Mt Lebanon. The 13-member board has representatives from several youth sports associations, but the focus is not limited to kids. Members of Indoor Tennis and the Women’s Golf Association also have seats on the current board.
After a couple of introductory meetings facilitated by executive and corporate coach Rex Gatto, the board has come up with a plan for what it would like to accomplish.
“The spade work is done,” says board chair Tim White. “When we first started talking, it was kind of like trying to boil the ocean—we wanted to do everything.”
After coming up with a mission statement, which in part is to “continually conduct needs analysis in order to develop realistic short- and long-term plans… (to) improve athletic facilities and recreation opportunities,” the next step is for board members to contact sports organizations and other recreation program consumers to come up with a prioritized list of needs.
Right now, along with the indoor tennis and women’s golf members, the board has representatives from baseball, basketball, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, skating, soccer and softball, along with two at-large members and a non-voting representative from the Parks Advisory Board. The appointments last from one to three years.
“We need to raise awareness, not just of the groups that are represented on the board, but of all the other interests,” White says. “We would like to speak with a common voice.”
Once all of the sports organizations have submitted and prioritized their wish lists, a process that should be done by the end of summer, the next step is to figure out what to fund and how to fund it.
The board also plans to brainstorm alternate funding sources for improvements to facilities and programs.
“We’re looking at non-traditional funding sources,” says White. “We’re considering everything.”
Although things are still in a very preliminary stage, White says he is energized by the level of commitment the members have displayed so far:
“These are people who raised their hands because they’re excited about the opportunities out there to improve the quality of the sports programs and facilities.”
One of the biggest challenges White sees is being able to communicate the board’s aim of accountability, both to residents and to the commission.
“We want to be in a position to recommend things to the commission in a way that’s not emotionally charged but one that’s more like building a business case,” he says. “We want to set everyone up to be successful.”
He believes a vibrant sports program is one of the keys to a desirable community.
“The sports programs are pretty deeply rooted in this community,” White says. “If you take that away, what are you left with? What fills the void?”