Recreation Rebounding After Pandemic Year

Brick Recreation will be restarting activities like wrestling this year. (Photo courtesy Brick Township)

  BRICK – The township Recreation Department will be running all the sports, events and camps that were in place pre-pandemic, and the staff has even added some new events, said its director, Dan Santaniello.

  “We’re going full tilt, with safety measures in place,” he said in a recent phone interview. “If we have to do social distancing, if we have to wear masks, we will keep the participant’s safety first, of course. We’re excited, just as the public is, to get the programs going again.”

  Last year the department didn’t even print a Recreation brochure because, as a result of the public health crisis, there was no information to go in it, Santaniello said.

  All activities, including early childhood programs, youth sports programs, adult sports programs and challenger programs were cancelled.

  The Recreation Department was forced to reinvent itself during the pandemic, and the staff came up with “Play at Home with Brick Recreation,” which included a number of online, home-based virtual games and activities that included social media.

  “We offered a lot, compared to other Rec departments throughout the state,” he said. “I would put us up against anyone, because we did a lot of stuff for our community.”

  This is the first year for a Cornhole League, which was the idea of Recreation staff member Jeff Napoli. Registration opened on Monday, April 5, and the staff were hoping that 20, two-person teams would register. 

  In less than six hours, the 20 teams had registered, so the Recreation staff opened registration for 20 additional teams. By Tuesday afternoon, registration was full at 40 teams.

  The teams will be playing at Bayside Park starting at the end of June and will run until the end of June. Playoffs are planned for early July.

  Intro to Hockey is another new addition for kids in first through eighth grade. The former head hockey coach at Brick High School, James Murphy, will be running the program at Birchwood Park.

A field hockey clinic will be new to Brick Recreation. (Photo courtesy Brick Township)

  Intro to Wrestling for first through eighth graders will be offered at the end of the summer, and taught by Recreation staff members, Santaniello said.

  And the last new program, a Field Hockey clinic, will be offered twice due to high interest. One will be held in the early summer months, and one will run in the fall. The clinic will be open to first to eighth graders, taught by Coach Murphy, and will be held at the Drum Point Sports Complex.

  Santaniello said he is excited to see the swim team start up again since there were no swimming activities last year.

  “We’re a town that’s surrounded by so much water, so I think it’s great for all these kids who want to learn how to swim,” he said. “We’re in a competitive league, so I’m looking forward to having that program back again. We appreciate these programs much more now than we ever did,”

  The online Recreation brochure, which contains information for the whole year, will be available towards the end of April. There are programs for everyone starting from a year old to senior citizens, he said.

  The printed brochure will be available shortly thereafter, Santaniello said. 25,000 copies are printed and distributed to all the students in Brick Township.

  Copies of the brochure will be available at the library and at the municipal building.