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New opportunities

New recreation director hopes to add more programs
Mike Reeve officially assumed the vacant recreation director position Nov. 1. (photo by Jen Moore)

SOLON- Solon Recreation Director Mike Reeve’s favorite moments are those of triumph and kindness.
Because he’s present for every Parks and Recreation game and activity, he gets to see the best of young athletes and coaches in the area. Sometimes he witnesses the excitement of a kindergartener’s very first soccer goal. Other times, he sees the definition of integrity, like when a coach tells a referee about a penalty he missed, even though it would go against his own team.
“When you see sportsmanship displayed by adults and see the success of the kids, it’s just a great feeling,” Reeve said.
Reeve officially became Solon’s recreation director Nov. 1, after previous director Travis Young stepped down.
Before taking over, Reeve worked as a business education teacher for over 30 years, including nine years at Solon High School. He also spent most of those years coaching his two sons in almost every sport imaginable, from the time the oldest was in kindergarten, up until the youngest entered high school.
It was this experience with youth and their parents that made Reeve an attractive candidate to Public Works Director Scott Kleppe. After Young stepped down, Kleppe contacted Reeve to see if he would fill in, even temporarily.
“Mike’s experience as a teacher and coach, and his long-time investment in the community, made him a good fit,” Kleppe said. “I think he’s well perceived in the community and people are going to like what they see come out of him.”
Having just retired from teaching, Reeve was more than willing to step in and felt comfortable making decisions right from the start.
“I’ve worked with kids of all ages my whole life in the classroom and coaching, and I’ve always enjoyed it,” Reeve said. “I thought the chance to work with them outside of the classroom was a great opportunity.”
But, under IPERS (Iowa Public Employee Retirement System) rules, Reeve couldn’t start working for the city until three months after his retirement. So during this period, he worked on a volunteer basis, learning the ropes from Young and becoming more comfortable with the job, the duties of which range from organizing sporting events to helping plow snow in the winter. On Oct. 1, he officially accepted the position and a month later he became a city employee.
One of Reeve’s biggest priorities is coming up with new activities for children. He feels the city already offers a wealth of athletic programs for kids, but wants to see more clubs and arts and craft activities.
Reeve also wants to offer more opportunities for Solon adults. Earlier in the year, the Parks and Recreation Department sent out a survey gauging interest in programs like yoga, kickboxing, and Zumba. He also hopes to plan monthly excursions for senior citizens.
“We just wanted to see what kinds of activities adults would like to see,” Reeve said. “I’m also just trying to get familiar with what everyone else is doing. We’re seeing what other organizations are doing and seeing how we can help them, or how we can add to it.”
Reeve has also been contemplating bringing back sand volleyball and co-ed softball leagues in the summer, both of which have been popular in the past.
“We’d like to see the program grow. Parks and Recreation and the Solon City Council have been behind it,” Kleppe said. “We had to find someone who would be very resourceful-minded because of the limited facilities and limited funds. Mike was that.”
Most of these programs would utilize facilities already in existence, but Reeve hopes to also add in a few more– a local skate park being one of them– though those would require additional fundraising.
Getting to see old students in a new light has been one of Reeve’s favorite parts of the job. Many parents of children participating in the Parks and Recreation Department’s programs grew up in Reeve’s classroom.
“I love getting to reacquaint myself with them,” he said. “They’ve been great, just very supportive.”
Yoga, youth basketball, and basketball camps are a few of the upcoming programs the Parks and Recreation Department offers to residents. For more information on registration and future activities, click on the Parks and Recreation tab on Solon’s City Hall website.