HAMMOND — Desiree Dotey is committed to encouraging more adults to get off the couch and play sports at the city of Hammond’s Recreation Department.
The 24-year-old was recently hired as the department’s recreation supervisor after working as its secretary since May 2013.
“I miss playing basketball and missed being around sports,” Dotey said as her reason for applying for the supervisor’s position, which allows her to take a hands-on approach to bringing sports to the Hammond community. “It has filled in that gap of playing sports for me.”
In her new role, Dotey plans to start a coed basketball league and a coed volleyball league for adults, she said.
The recreation center already offers coed softball for adults and youth basketball. A coordinator also offers adult coed flag football, which is in session now, Dotey said.
“Women like me who played in college find it hard to find a place to play (sports),” Dotey said.
Dotey plans to give other adults interested in a competitive environment a place where even those who have never played sports before can hone their athletic skills.
In addition to providing programs for adults, Dotey wants to invite more children and adults with disabilities to the recreation center. The center recently added Options, an organization that helps people with disabilities live and work on their own. The organization also helps clients practice for the state’s Special Olympics, which will be in the summer of 2015.
“I’m hoping to open that door,” Dotey said of adding more people to her roster of programs.
Dotey said the center needs the community to become more involved and sign up their children and themselves for sports.
“It’s important to get more kids — and parents — involved in physical activity,” Dotey said. “If the parents aren’t active in physical activity, the kids won’t be either.”
The center has more than 70 adults and more than 200 youths active in its programs. Dotey said she hopes word-of-mouth will help increase that number.
The deadline for youths to sign up for basketball is Friday. Dotey said she hopes to have at least 250 youths sign up for the program, including children over nine, the hardest age group to motivate. The first game, she said, is Dec. 13.
Dotey grew up in Ponchatoula and attended Ponchatoula High School, where she played basketball and was a member of the 1,000 Point Club, a group of basketball players who have scored more than 1,000 points during their high school career. Eight former students are listed on the gym wall at PHS as having received the honor, Dotey said.
After receiving a full basketball scholarship, Dotey attended Southwest Mississippi College in McComb before transferring to the University of West Florida in Orlando, where she also played basketball and received a full basketball scholarship.
After losing credits when she transferred, Dotey still had a year and a half until she could graduate and returned home to complete her education at Southeastern Louisiana University, earning a degree in kinesiology.
Dotey has played sports since she was 5 years old. She said she remembers the yearround practices, tournaments and games that have helped her develop into the person she is today.
She wants today’s youths to have those same memories, she said.
“I’m trying to build this,” Dotey said of the Recreation Department. “I want it to be like Ponchatoula’s Recreation Center one day.”
To make it easier for parents and adults to register for programs, Dotey plans to start online registration soon. The recreation center now only accepts registration in person or by mail.
“I think this would be a big help (in getting more participants),” Dotey said.
Dotey said safety is a big priority at the Hammond Recreation Center and security will be present at games so things don’t get “out of hand.”
Longtime Hammond Recreation Center Senior Activities Coordinator Linda Irwin said Dotey “is a great asset.”
“She’s a real team player,” Irwin said.