OCRA has been a part of Okeechobee for more than 55 years. It was created by a group of eight men who wanted a league for their …
Recently, there have been some changes to the association. There is a new board of directors, and John Kemp is now president of the board. With the help of his wife Cindy, who is the secretary, and the other members of the 14-person board, he tries to make working with OCRA a positive experience for the children and the parents.
Cindy said from what she understood, the association had trouble when Covid-19 arrived. They had already done signups and purchased equipment with those funds. This made it hard for them to refund the signup fees when the town and all activities were shut down. This caused a lot of resentment from those parents who did not get timely refunds.
The new board is trying to set right any lingering problems and as far as Cindy knows, everyone has now been refunded for that season.
“We want to be positive and transparent with all things,” said Cindy. “We want anyone who has questions to be able to come to us and get answers. Here it is. We will show you.”
In the past, OCRA had 800-900 children but now has maybe 500-600. “We need to make it so the families trust in OCRA again so the kids have something. We always hear there is nothing for the kids to do. If we don’t have these programs, then there really is going to be nothing.”
Right now, OCRA is doing spring baseball. "We are trying to listen to the complaints about the way things used to be done and are changing them one by one.” One of the biggest complaints was about teams being put together without a coach. This meant those teams were not as strong. The teams that did have coaches snapped up all the best players, and the others were left to flounder until a parent volunteered. Now, they make sure they have all the coaches lined up first before they even started signups. “We even have some of our alumni out here coaching, some of our kids who went off and played college ball.”
The new board is trying to save money by going back to the way things used to be done and having volunteers work the concession stand and doing the umpiring rather than paying for help. Cindy explained signup fees kept going up because there were no volunteers and they had to pay for help.
There are several exciting new things happening with OCRA.
Football was dropped from OCRA’s calendar back when travel ball began, but many parents said they wanted their children to have the opportunity to play without having to travel. They also complained that the travel teams only had a certain number of children on them, leaving a lot of kids without an opportunity to play. So, this year, football comes back to Okeechobee. “It is a work in progress, but it is definitely happening. The Children’s Service Council has agreed to help us purchase equipment.”
Okeechobee County Park and Recreation handles basketball and soccer, Cindy explained.
“Our goal is to provide positive sports leagues for everyone in our community,” said Cindy.
For more information on the opportunities for players or volunteers, email email@example.com or message them on Facebook. Three people monitor these accounts and do their best to answer promptly. “We are always at the ballfield if you ever need to find us,” said Cindy.