This number won’t surprise anyone who has driven past a county baseball or soccer field on a Saturday – more than 100,000 county residents (youth and adults) participate in sports on county fields and in our gyms. Our love of sports ranges from basketball to cricket, rugby to badminton and the list goes on.
Making sure our athletes get access to our fields and gyms to practice and compete is the responsibility of NCS-Athletics, the Athletic Services and Community Use Scheduling Unit of the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.
The staff collaborates with the Fairfax County Athletic Council, Board of Supervisors, Park Authority and Fairfax County Public Schools to establish and implement priorities for enhancing the availability of sports programs to residents of all ages and abilities.
One of the primary responsibilities of the unit is to manage the scheduling and community use of the 249 gymnasiums and 859 athletic fields located at schools, parks and other locations throughout the county. That includes the county’s 86 turf fields—more than any other jurisdiction in the region. It’s a big job to manage the equitable distribution of playing time when you consider the sheer demand for practices and games, as well as tournaments and playoffs.
“It can be challenging at times to manage our finite resources in order to provide the maximum access and impact for so many athletic organizations and their athletes,” Avvisato says. “Our staff maintains great relationships with the athletic leagues, teams and coaches in Fairfax County and more often than not we are able to find creative ways of accommodating the need for field and gym space.”
Sports organizations in Fairfax also provide thousands of volunteers to serve as building and field monitors at athletic facilities throughout the county. They are trained by and work alongside the county staff to reduce the amount of facility damage and handle any problems that might arise.
“We couldn’t accomplish our mission without our partnership with these sports organizations and their volunteers,” said Avvisato. “These men and women are our eyes and ears on the field and in our gyms to help us monitor the care and maintenance of our athletic facilities and equipment and to be on-hand to help us ensure that all of our teams and athletes have a safe and positive experience.”
Beyond the logistics of sports management, the athletics unit also works to give back and recognize outstanding achievement on and off the field, such as working with local athletic organizations on the program Fairfax Athletes Stand Together (FAST), which provides assistance for those in need. FAST has organized food and clothing donations as well as a variety of community service projects that bring athletes and families together off the field to benefit our communities. They also host the annual Champions of Character Awards program to honor youth, coaches and parents for outstanding achievement in cultivating teamwork, leadership, good sportsmanship and community service.