In our present culture, pretty much any girl or boy can participate in sports in this county. There are all kinds of baseball, football, and soccer teams, for all ages, available to the youth of Miami County.
When I was young, there was some soccer and other activities, but mainly Troy Little League Football (Go Eagles!), and Troy Jaycees Little League Baseball. Football games were played on the Market Street Field at the old football stadium, and baseball games were played on the elementary school fields around town. Now, almost anyone can find select teams in the area for whom to play, and they travel all over the place.
There was a time years ago when other than participating in athletics through the local schools, many young people did not have much to do in the form of organized recreation. Most of the outside activity was self-made, which sometimes got some of the kids into trouble.
In the early years of the Depression, Troy and other county schools only had a half dozen sports for the guys and one or two for the girls, but nothing was available during the summer when young people had all sorts of time on their hands. But, in 1932, an idea came to a Troy resident and he decided to follow through with his inkling.
Rev. A.M. “Pop” Dixon, minister of the First Baptist Church in Troy, was an advocate for young people throughout his ministry. He not only cared about their relationship to God, spiritual life, etc., but also was concerned for their physical well-being. He understood that that young men and ladies were forming habits for life during those early and mid-teen years, and idleness could often lead to mischief or worse, as well as knowing wholesome physical and social activity helps the mind and body to grow and mature.
During the summer of 1932, Pop Dixon was playing baseball with some teen boys in the field east of Heywood, when the idea of having regularly scheduled activities for the guys came to his mind. So he had them gather all the interested teen boys together and had them form themselves into teams in order to play a tournament like schedule. The idea caught on and was popular. During the next year, he also added activities for the girls.
One of the other ideals Pop Dixon had in mind was to provide events for young people who might not have the opportunity to be involved otherwise. In this, he was reaching out to the neglected.
Rev. Dixon desired to expand the program, so in 1935 he took his plan to the Troy Ministerial Association for backing. Many of the other ministers liked the idea, so that spring they organized a recreation commission. Many well-known and already active people in the community from the various churches made up this commission.
By 1941, the Troy Recreation Association was not only actively planning programs for the young people, but also had a meeting and activity hall, “Troy Recreation Hall,” in the Coleman-Allen-Saidleman building at the northwest corner of the Public Square and E. Main St.
This idea initiated later summer recreation plans in the city, but was also the beginning of the “The Rec,” a fun gathering place for young people to socialize and enjoy snacks and games.
The Rec and its program became well-known throughout the country, and even outside the U.S., and is widely supported in Troy community, and it all began with a minister’s concern for the well-being of young people he had an opportunity to influence for good.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to email@example.com