‘It’s been a real challenge’: Terrebonne Parish Recreation navigating through a pandemic

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When the pandemic hit the parish nearly one year ago, Terrebonne Parish Recreation (TPR) Director Roddy Lerille hoped, like many others, that the shutdowns and other COVID-19 safety measures would only last a few weeks. 


“I’m thinking like everybody else: this might be three or four weeks,” he recalled. “Then three or four weeks turned into three or four months, which turned into six months…”


Concerns over the novel coronavirus forced TPR operations to be put on pause, canceling youth baseball, softball and T-ball along with the adult softball program. Per state mandates, gyms were closed for open play too. 


After restrictions loosened, TPR sports returned with safety measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitization, among others. “We’re fortunate because we’ve been able to offer the sports again, within the guidelines,” Lerille said. “I know some municipalities have chosen not to have sports.” 


“It’s been a real challenge — that should go without saying,” he continued. “We’re trying to provide the safest environment possible for everyone.” 


Lerille said indoor sports were the hardest to navigate through due to indoor seating limits. 

“A lot of our facilities only allow for maybe 50, 60 or 70 people to be in the gym. So we had to structure things in a way and separate times to where not so many people were showing up at the gym at the same time,” he said. 


Besides a few exceptions, Lerille said, community members have been complying with the COVID rules. 


The safety protocols have worked too, Lerille noted: “We had some isolated incidents with people that have that tested positive and let us know. But we didn’t have an outbreak…I think the safety measures we put in place are adequate.” 


Although the pandemic convinced some parents not to register their children for sports, the numbers weren’t as low as Lerille expected. For instance, the youth basketball program that just ended had 769 participants. The year before, it had 799. 


He added that some coaches and officials also opted out of programs because of coronavirus concerns.


Even though COVID-19 brings a fair share of obstacles, the department is still managing new programs, such as pickleball, and aims to bring more. In January, TPR announced a flag football program will begin in July. Lerille said residents have been asking about the sport.  


“There are numerous kids that have been traveling to Thibodaux over the last couple of years to participate in that flag football program, so we identified that as another sport we can offer,” he said. “That’s basically how [new programs] come about: individuals inquiring about these programs…and seeing if we can offer them here.” 


To learn more about the programs Terrebonne Parish Recreation offers, visit its Facebook page. 


Photo courtesy of TPR social media.