One of the major sports offered in Peachtree Corners is soccer, organized by non-profit associations using county parks. The parks also host roller hockey, baseball and softball, karate, and dance, while the YMCA has sports programs of its own. Soccer and roller hockey are two of the major sporting opportunities Peachtree Corners residents can pursue in their city’s athletic facilities.
Gwinnett County Athletic Coordinator Gary Schussler said that Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation largely handles recreation and parks on the city’s behalf. Parks within Peachtree Corners’ boundaries, include Jones Bridge Park, West Gwinnett Park and Aquatics Center, Pinckneyville Park, and the Pinckneyville Community Recreation Center. Like other county parks, non-profit organizations manage the activities.
The Peachtree Booster Club provides soccer at Jones Bridge Park and roller hockey at Pinckneyville Park. Club President Andrew Collins said the soccer program is one of the oldest in the area, dating back to 1978. It has been affiliated with the Georgia State Soccer Association for the last five years.
“It’s a smaller community but we’ve had some really good teams out here,” Collins said. “For example, we’ve won three state championships in the last two years.”
The U16 girls’ team won two of these championships back to back, while the U16 boys’ team won the other. The U10 girls’ and boys’ teams both were runners-up.
This year, the club is starting a select program whose teams will be coached by members of the Atlanta Silverbacks professional soccer team. Members of the soccer team also play substantial roles helping coach other teams.
Collins estimated there are 250 to 300 participants ages 4 to 19 in the program. Collins also said Jones Bridge Park provided great fields for the program.
“The primary mission is having fun and developing young athletes,” he said.
There are two seasons, a fall one from August to October and a spring one from February to May. There are also summer camps for those who wish to sharpen their skills further. Collins is still seeking girls 16 to 19 years old to fill the remaining teams for the fall season.
Hockey Director Mark Ogden said the roller hockey team moved to Pinckneyville Park in the early 1990s, playing in an open arena with a concrete floor. In 2008, new flooring was provided and a roof built so play could take place during inclement weather. The club offers roller hockey during the fall, winter, and spring, along with summer camps. At any time of the year, there are typically 80-85 adult participants. Participation among the children ages 5-14 varies, with around 230 in the winter and 125 in the spring and fall. The summer camps typically include 40 to 45 children for the whole summer.
The club has a new hockey program called StreetCats for children 3-6 years old. They play street hockey in their sneakers. Since the program teaches how to skate, games include players in sneakers and skates. Ogden said those with skates are faster but those in sneakers have more control.
“It all kind of even out,” he said.
StreetCats has 12-15 kids in the spring or fall and 45-46 in the winter.
Pinckneyville Park also hosts the Norcross Soccer Academy and Norcross Youth Baseball Softball. Norcross Soccer Academy Executive Director Tony Annan said the park’s soccer complex makes an excellent hosting site. It’s one of the nicest soccer complexes in Metro Atlanta, and its five lighted fields provide a good environment.
“The heart of our club is our park,” he said. “This place is a large benefit to us.”
Parents can walk or jog on trails while their children play. Many soccer leagues are spread out across multiple facilities and never develop the sense of community a single site can bring.
Founded in 1982, the soccer academy is non-profit and provides soccer opportunities for ages 3 to 19. There’s a recreational league whose purpose is having fun and improving one’s skills and two “select” leagues, one for U8 to U12 and the other for U13 to U19. The latter has more professional coaching and plays against other soccer associations in Metro Atlanta and elsewhere.
The organization has been growing rapidly—when Annan joined in 2005, there were 680 participants and now there are 1,500 to 1,600 each season. He attributes this growth to the professional staff hailing from all over the world. They expose participants to different soccer techniques and styles of play. The participants themselves also represent every demographic.
Norcross Youth Baseball Softball President Kevin Hallam said the program offers both recreational baseball and softball for ages 4-14 and travel baseball and softball for ages 9-14. Pinckneyville Park’s seven fields, four of which have grass infields, can accommodate T-ball players all the way through those playing at the high school level. The recreational baseball program has 500 participants in the spring, while the softball program has 100 to 150. Travel baseball has 100, while travel softball has 24-25. In the fall, the numbers are roughly two-thirds that.
The Pinckneyville Park Community Center was originally founded as an arts center, but now includes athletic programs like martial arts and ballet. Program Leader Brian Bentley said the county contracts with Charles Minter Tae Kwon Do to provide lessons not only at Pinckneyville Park but at all community centers. Classes are for ages 6 through adult and take place in six-week rotations. As far as ballet is concerned, the county contracts with Debbie Ellis to provide traditional ballet, a Mommy and Me class that allows mothers and daughters to dance together, and hip-hop. Like tae kwon do, classes are organized in six-week rotations.
Schussler said West Gwinnett Park’s athletic fields are rented out for the purposes of soccer, football, lacrosse, and flag football. The aquatics center, however, hosts various swim organizations in the same vein the parks host private athletic organizations.
The Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA has been open since 1997. Since Community Programs Director Lisa Brasher came on board in 2008, the facility’s athletic programs have increased from soccer to include flag football, T-ball, volleyball and, most recently, golf.
The golf program is in partnership with Gwinnett County. Participants will not only learn the physical skills to play golf, but also rules and etiquette and even the math and science behind the game.
In addition to golf, the facility is signing up participants for soccer and flag football, which typically have 150 participants and 40-45 participants,respectively. Winter will bring basketball and cheerleading, while spring will bring soccer, flag football, T-ball, and volleyball.
“For the most part we’re looking to give the kids an opportunity to play and make new friends,” Brasher said.
The YMCA would like kids to learn the necessary skills and make friends. Winning is kept in perspective. Like in all YMCA programs, participants are taught the four values of respects, responsibility, caring, and honesty.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA
5600 W Jones Bridge Road
Norcross, GA 30092
Peachtree Booster Club Sports
Jones Bridge Park
4901 East Jones Bridge Road
Norcross, GA 30092
4758 South Old Peachtree Road
Norcross, GA 30071
West Gwinnett Park and Aquatics Center
4488 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Norcross, GA 30071
Pinckneyville Community Recreation Center
4650 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard,
Norcross, GA 30071
Norcross Baseball Softball