For love of the game.
That brilliant slogan was printed on the front of every Chico Area Recreation District jersey from the time my son began flag football in second grade until his final eighth grade co-ed volleyball game played in the CARD fieldhouse or inside Marsh Junior High’s gym, filled with its trademark stuffed alligators.
So when I saw the more than 60 photos of Corning’s brand new flag football league published by the city of Corning Recreation Department this weekend, I smiled a bunch.
I smiled because an entire age group of kids have an opportunity most Corning kids a generation ago and beyond never got to experience.
For at least an hour, parents approached the lectern and asked the city to set aside funds to create recreation programs for kids. Some testified about bringing their kids to Orland for flag football or Chico for other recreational opportunities outside of sports.
A handful of parents told the council their kids couldn’t participate in out of town leagues due to work schedules and transportation struggles.
The public discussion concluded with my neighbor and leader of our movement passionately pleading for the council to offer more than just the city swimming pool for Corning’s youth.
As if it were yesterday, I can still remember the Corning mayor’s response. He looked at us with a straight face and reminisced about his days as a kid in Corning. He told us how his mom would make him breakfast or lunch – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – and send him off to play in the neighborhood or at the city pool.
Those words were hard to accept in 2007-ish and almost as hard to accept now. Many of us were so upset, we made an informal pact not to shop for groceries or gas or cars in Corning because we didn’t count.
Looking back, that was probably a childish response. But in the early 2000s, Corning was transitioning from a rural community where generations of families were proud to call her home, into a small city of first generation residents unfamiliar with the proud traditions and character of its past.
Thankfully, today’s Corning City Council understands the importance of developing its young people. The council has children and grandchildren attending local schools and recognizes the need for kids to find a passion early in life.
The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians also deserves credit. They are administrators of a Promise Neighborhood Grant that made it possible for the city to develop a recreation program for kids ages 1 to 18 years old.
Corning Recreation even offers a leadership program for high school students to earn community service hours. High school students can volunteer in recreation classes and help instructors.
Youth Photography with the talented Ivan Rojas begins on July 7. Summer dance classes, including baby ballet for ages 2 to 5, hip hop tumble, cheerleading, gymnastics and even hip hop dance for ages 7 to 14 are all available this summer. These are great ways to stay out of the heat and learn something new, if you ask me.
On June 27, Tiny Tots readers for ages 1 to 4, begins. There’s also Taekwondo and so much more. Check out www.corning.org to register. I think they’ll take you in their program, even if you don’t live inside the city limits of Corning – wink, wink.
Hats off to you, Corning, for helping kids find a love for the game of life.
Shanna Long is a fourth generation journalist and former editor of the Corning Daily Observer. She and her husband reside in Corning and farm almonds, walnuts and prunes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, instagram @sjolong.