However, after eight years on the job and the addition of a small but dedicated crew, Hulsey has helped bring statewide recognition to the Rockmart recreation department.
The Georgia Recreation and Parks Association named Rockmart as the 2011 GRPA District 5 Class “B” Agency of the Year last Wednesday during a ceremony in Atlanta.
“It was really a shock to be honest,” Hulsey said of being voted on by the other GRPA member departments.
“This is a great honor for Rockmart. We were up against cities that have got almost 600 employees in their recreation department.”
District 5 includes 33 different agencies ranging from Cobb County to Murray County.
“To be looked at as a top department in the state shows that Rockmart stands out,” Hulsey said. “We’ve been a part of GRPA for eight years and this is the first time we’ve ever won an award of this magnitude.”
Over that time, Hulsey has been able to hire John Hooper, Jerry Dabbs and Lamar Whatley to help him manage the growth that Rockmart recreation has witnessed.
“Where Rockmart used to be in a learning process with recreation, agencies are now calling and asking us for advice,” Hulsey said. “Rockmart has now become a leader in GRPA across the state.”
Hulsey first oversaw the youth basketball program at a time when the Hogue Avenue gym was the only place for teams to play and practice, creating a tough situation once the season started.
But when the city purchased the old Rockmart High School campus on Piedmont Avenue, opportunities were opened.
“Once the city purchased the old high school our programs doubled,” Hulsey said. “It is by far one of the best recreational facilities around. Not many departments have a stadium.”
The 28 additional acres of space, which included a gymnasium, wrestling room, football field and baseball field, allowed basketball teams to be able to practice at Hogue Avenue and play games at Scoggins Hall.
Now there are nearly 200 kids that play basketball each year and the youth soccer program, which Hulsey helped start, has grown from around 30 kids to over 200.
“I’ve always maintained that it’s about the kids,” Hulsey said. “It’s not how many games you win or lose or how many championships you win. To maintain a program you have to make an environment that’s fun.”
Husley said two of the events he is glad the recreation department gets to be a part of is the Polk County Special Olympics and Relay for Life, both of which take place at the Nathan Dean Sports Complex.
“I appreciate all of the guys that work here for all of the hours they have put in and the community has been great,” Hulsey said. “We couldn’t do it without volunteers. They are so important in every sport and are our lifeline.”
The GRPA recognized that Rockmart’s recreation department has done a lot to promote recreation and contributed to the community despite the tough economic times.
“When you have limited resources you simply do what you’ve got to do and move forward,” Hulsey said. “That’s what we’ve always done.”