Local recreational sports now have a new department and director.
Jacob Agee began his job as recreation director on Thursday, just one month after the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a county recreation department. The Floyd/Floyd County Parks & Recreation Authority, which had been overseeing the sports, had voted to disband in January. On Tuesday night, the Board of Supervisors voted to officially end the authority.
“This is my dream job,” said Agee, 24, who grew up playing sandlot in the county.
Agee, a 2013 FCHS graduate, attended New River Community College for two years before transferring to Radford University and graduating in 2018 with a B.S. degree in Sport Administration and a minor in Marketing. Before his graduation, he took a study abroad to Australia and said the 1 ½ months of study was an amazing highlight of his years at RU. For the experience, he combined a study of marketing with his interest in the sports culture there. He learned that while football, basketball and baseball dominate in the U.S., Australia embraces rugby, cricket, bocce ball and other sports. “The coolest thing I ever saw….their ‘Friday night football’ is camel racing. They race camels, and they make a big to-do out of it….It was incredible.”
When Agee was 13 years old, Cheryl Whitlock-Allen, the recreation director at that time, recruited him to officiate at rec ballgames. He recalled the pay was good. For an hour and a half on the baseball field, he got about $15.
“It kind of grew on me. I hurt my knee playing football my junior year in high school ….so I ended up not playing anything my senior year.”
He wanted to stay involved with sports, and he said Danny Foster, who was officiating basketball at the time, put “the bug in his ear” to give high school officiating a try. Agee, then 17, sent an email to the commissioner for football, who accepted and trained him. The first year Agee officiated at middle school and junior varsity games. He has had a full varsity schedule since his second year in the program. He also started officiating basketball, baseball and softball that same year. This will be his seventh year in just high school sports officiating.
When Agee was 19, he began officiating college softball. Now he works for the ACC, Big East, Big South, the Ivy League, and several other Division 2 and 3 league schools in softball. He calls lines for the ACC in volleyball, and he works in men’s college basketball.
“Officiating has kind of become my passion in life,” Agee commented. “I’ve worked my way up. This past week I worked a national championship tournament for USA softball.”
He said he has met what he considers his closest friends through officiating. “It’s a good chance to network. A perk of it is, too, a lot of us have the same line of work….It’s like a huge pool of information at my disposal.”
He also enjoys the opportunities to travel. Last year officiating jobs took him to Arizona, Kansas, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In officiating, Agee explained, “the higher the level you work, the less it is about having fun. It’s pressure. I worked on TV several times last year. It’s nerve-racking….Sometimes you have to make split second decisions.”
He views himself as a diffuser, for instance, when a coach is upset and trying to make a point. “Officiating has given me the tools and the ‘verbal judo’ to talk them off of a ledge and keep the game moving. That’s certainly a transferrable skill here. The fact that I officiate at such a high level really adds to what I can bring to this department.”
Agee is quick to point out that his new job as recreation director will take precedence over anything. “My (officiating) schedule is going to take cuts. I may only work on the weekends or once a week.” He said the department is always going to come first, but when he has time, he will officiate.
Agee added that the recreation director’s job has been his dream since he was 13 years old. “It’s just incredible how it worked. I knew I wanted to come back to Floyd and run this department. It’s the whole reason I chose my degree.”
Before his new job began this week, Agee had been interim director of the Authority.
Former recreation director Andy Mabe trained him and helped him transition to the job. Mabe now works in Christiansburg.
The county has budgeted for one part-time employee to work with Agee in the recreation office. The scope of the job within the county department has narrowed, but only slightly, Agee said. “Before with the Authority, it was like running a small business; with the county department, we have more resources.” He said he will oversee all of the youth and adult programming and everything associated with it. His supervisor is County Administrator Terri Morris.
The recreation director’s job requires a lot of flexibility. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, Agee explains. For example, the first day of practice for county rec football is August 12, so his schedule will probably include office hours in the morning, but the rest of the day will be devoted to field maintenance, cleaning, meetings with coaches and rules committees. “It’s also expected that the director be at most of those football games, so I could be looking at 12 to 15 hour days sometimes. …That’s just what the job entails.”
Football is offered for kindergarteners through seventh graders. Competition includes play in the NRV League. “It’s a good opportunity for the kids,” Agee said. Also offered as recreational sports for youth are soccer, baseball, basketball, softball and volleyball. “We’re also trying to get cheerleading in here.”
There are adult sports, too. This year adult softball was offered by the Authority, and it is in progress now. Approximately 120-130 are participating. Agee also has a team and said, “I have had a blast playing with people….I feel like it’s something the county has needed for a long time.”
The Authority also offered adult basketball this year.
Agee said he wants to address adult sports within the county recreation department and give everyone a chance to play. He hopes to be with the rec department a long time and to build the entire program.
As he starts his new job, Agee said he’s “got to hit the ground running at a million miles an hour.” Although the pace is hectic, he is looking forward to the challenge. “It really requires someone who has a passion for sports….It works for me because I love what I do.”