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Article in the Mariemont Town Crier November 2012


It takes a VIllage...

By denis BeauseJour

Last month we profiled the past president of the Mariemont Recreation Association, Bob Rich. That story was really about a great team – MRA Board members have served almost 100 years! The MRA serves thousands of children, and makes a priceless contribution to our Village’s character.

Rich Ewald has been treasurer and vice- president for 18 years. He has a wonderful sense of humor and the discretion and objectivity needed. He hates following up on families that can’t afford the fees, and you get
a sense he knows exactly when to follow policy and when to bless a struggling family. He offers wisdom as

decisions are taken and yes, occasionally asks sports coordinators if they can add. Rich is looking for someone

with financial savvy to step into his role.

Mike McCracken has led the softball program for 14 years. A P&G vet, Mike and Wendy have raised three girls in MRA sports as coaches and volunteers. Mike was drawn
to serve on the MRA Board after watching Bob Rich’s principled leadership for 10 years. Mike loved that there was always a drive to experiment and find better ways to develop kids – last year there were 73 players. The under 8 league is a great example of that. Mike is enjoying the ride but also knows it’s time to find the right successor.

Steve Barker got engaged through his daughters Erica and Stephanie playing soccer on one of Bob Rich’s teams. He volunteered to coach as his girls continued in the program. His web design skills came in handy as the MRA used technology for registration. Steve ended up taking over the soccer program,
and has served 14 years as coordinator. Steve credits Bob Rich as the innovator of the “small sided soccer” which he and Bob pushed in many meetings with other communities – and

MarieMont town Crier

it is now the accepted standard for developing kids in the sport – now 300+ kids strong.

Missy Fields found Bob Rich to be knowledgeable, organized and willing to serve: cleaning bathrooms, digging rocks out of fields, and advocating for kids sports. “He is genuinely excited to see the kid who was afraid to go near the ball finally make a kick or the child with special needs finish a race, or thebaseballplayerwhogottofirst. Weneed a few more of those!” Missy joined the MRA board after coaching soccer and running the preschool-kindergarten soccer group for a few years. She has served for 11 years and lent a strong mom’s voice to the team as secretary.

Randy York has been baseball coordinator for 6 years, and there are now over 100
kids in the program. There have been great improvements like tee ball to help kids grow in the sport. In hearing Randy’s report, I could sense a lot of enthusiasm to pass on and grow America’s pastime in the next generation. Hal Northrop stepped in to lead the basketball program in 2010. They had 150 kids playing last season and expect more in 2013. This year, two new leaders have stepped up. British expat Rob Pettifer, an enthusiastic runner, heads up the track program which served 128

kids last season. And Wes Iredale started the volleyball program with 39 girls participating. The energy of these new leaders is adding a great dimension to the MRA, and they are also carefully supported by the veterans who have the history and can help them deal with unexpected challenges.

The new president will be John Getgey, a father of four who has coached extensively in soccer,baseball,basketballandhelpedwiththe track meet. John says “It will be a tall order to fill Bob’s position. He is respected, trusted and admired by many.” In the past year, Bob has walked John through all the different aspects of the position.“Bob is a very special man. He combines a compassion for what he does with a business focus, calm demeanor and humor. He listens well and gives helpful and useful feedback when problems arise. I plan to find excuses to call him in the future. He can run but he won’t be able to hide.” He says there is nothing like the feeling of walking down the street and having one of the kids you coached come running up to you and say “Hey Coach, I can’t wait to play again next year!” Mariemont is a very special community thanks to this team of talented and dedicated leaders.  


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