The job of running the three-day Freedlander Swim Meet is large and complex. While most of those issues hinged around activities inside the Freedlander Pool area, the issue of parking is a critical one as well.
The Wooster High School (WHS) cross-country and track teams have been helping out in that venue to make sure those coming to and from the meet have an easier time with finding a parking place.
They were drafted years ago for the task. WHS cross-country runners centralize their running program out of Freedlander throughout the summer months, which is how they came to the attention of Larry Smucker, the coach of the summer swim program at Freedlander.
“One morning Larry Smucker – and I don’t know how many years it’s been, but it’s been several – talked to me as the boys were going out on their morning run,” said WHS boys cross-country coach Doug Bennett. “He asked if we would be willing to do the parking (detail). Freedlander is so big and parking can be really chaotic.
“At the time I said yes and at the end of it Larry made a nice donation to the cross and track programs. Now every summer we do this. It’s very informal. He sees me out with the kids and says, ‘Here are the dates – can you do it?’
“They are very nice people,” Bennett added. “They don’t treat us like we’re the help. Larry is very good in making sure we get plenty of bottled water and with any conflict he’s very supportive of us. We’re treated like we’re part of a team and we like that.”
There is value beyond just helping out, Bennett said.
“The kids can apply this toward community service and it’s a great way for kids to assert themselves,” he said. “You can’t do a good job parking cars and maintain a demur personality. Not that you’re aggressive, but you have to be assertive. It’s fun to see the kids pointing to go here and then jogging around and finding (open) parking spaces (throughout the lot).”
Senior Brock Berlin was part of a 10-person crew who worked Saturday morning to get and keep traffic organized.
“There were times it was on-and-off with rushes of cars,” said Berlin. “Everyone had the same plan to be here at the same time, but we had a good system down for parking at different times. Some people get crabby and think they can find a better spot, but we were able to keep it orderly, which helped.
“It’s nice to help the community in some sort of way. People feel there is someone paying attention to what is going on and it’s nice to let them know in the chaos that comes from all the people and all the cars, it’s nice to keep order.”
Senior Claire Miller was glad to help and at the same time see the asphalt jungle side of the Freedlander Meet.
“We’re both athletic programs trying to better ourselves,” said Miller. “It’s nice to help out another program that has the same ideas. A lot of the swimmers are cross-country and track runners and vice versa. It’s nice to help them and support the program they are in because they are in both of our programs.”
In the past, that pertained to Miller.
“Usually I’m actually swimming and I’m not able to help,” she said. “I have swum the Freedlander Meet the past four to five years. This is the first time I’ve parked cars. [I’m] focusing more on running and I have a job, so it’s harder to do both this year.”
Published: July 13, 2011