Local Cory Griffith takes over the reins as Lusk’s Recreation Director. Photo/ Lori Himes
LUSK – When Cory Griffith returned to Lusk nine years ago, he did so looking to “slow down a little bit” and “get out of the fast lane” after years in larger cities and towns.
With him, Griffith also brought back more than a decade of participation in baseball and softball, a passion that first took hold during his childhood in the recreation leagues of Lusk.
Now, Griffith looks to pass on the same access to sports he enjoyed when he was a kid to the next generation of Niobrara County youth from his position as the town of Lusk’s new recreation director.
Despite his time away, Griffith is a Niobrara County native who was born and grew up in Lusk.
“I was raised here, went to school here, left for college – and moved away to go to a different tech school out in Seattle, (Wash.),” he said.
Between stops in Seattle, Sioux Falls, S.D., Park City, Utah and various others, one thing remained relatively constant in Griffith’s life: baseball. After growing up with the game, he umpired for 11 years while continuing to participate in baseball and softball.
In that way, the job as recreation director is a labor of love and one of the big reasons why he decided to take the job when the previous director stepped down.
“I’ve been involved with baseball most of my life,” Griffith said. “We needed someone to step up and do it that is familiar with our adult softball programs and our youth baseball programs around here.”
Niobrara County is more than just a few recreational teams, though. Many, many individuals participate in the leagues – especially considering the population of Lusk – and recreation has a deep history in the region.
“As I look back at the archives and the history of Niobrara County,” he said, “it’s always been kind of woven into the fabric of the area. It used to be Saturday and Sunday afternoon when locals would just kind of get together after a long week of work to have a picnic and play baseball for a few hours.”
These activities have kept momentum going after all these years and multiple generations.
“For as little town as we are up here, it’s pretty incredible that we’ve got close to a dozen softball teams,” Griffith said.
In that way, the new rec. director – who also works at the hardware store and writes sports for the Lusk Herald – has hit the ground running and is looking to grow the programs.
“Earlier this week, we started our little kids soccer. We’ve got 50 kids signed up from ages 5 to 10 for the most part, with a couple of 11-year-olds thrown in,” Griffith explained of the beginning of his tenure. “Soccer runs through the month of May. We’ll have traveling baseball in June. Then, in July, we’ll have our T-ball and coach pitch for the little kids.”
He’s also busied himself setting up schedules, ordering uniforms, scheduling field times and doing some work on the fields, among other tasks. Looking to the future, Griffith has heard plenty of ideas from the community. Volleyball, youth football leagues and Babe Ruth baseball could all be in future plans.
“I’d like to maybe, in the coming years, keep the youth baseball program going strong and keep interest going. I’d love to get a Babe Ruth program going again for 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds,” he said. “We had Babe Ruth going when I was a kid. I played Babe Ruth.”
A lot of people suggest introducing new sports, but, in the end, ensuring the vitality of the programs and providing youth and adults alike a recreational outlet are Griffith’s goals for the program.
“It’s a community event, whether it’s adult softball or watching everybody’s kids get out and kick a soccer ball around,” he said. “It’s for people to enjoy themselves and enjoy being outdoors and having a good time.”
For the complete article see the 05-28-2014 issue.