Sawyer helping others create sports memories at parks and rec
BY Anna Goodwin McCarthy
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Darris Sawyer fondly recalls taking part in sports activities provided by Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation when he was growing up.
Now Sawyer is helping others make similar sports memories as superintendent for recreation with the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Parks and Recreation Department.
“It changes lives,” Sawyer said of the parks and recreation department. “It gave me a direction and a vision.”
A Camden resident, Sawyer said his love of sports began at an early age. He played T-ball when he was 5 years old. Both his parents also played sports through what was then the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation Department. He watched his mother play volleyball and softball and his father play basketball and softball.
“My whole family is full of athletes,” said Sawyer. “It was in my blood from day one.”
Sawyer would go on to play baseball, basketball and football at Camden County High School.
“Baseball wrote my ticket to college,” he said.
Sawyer played baseball at Pfeiffer University for two years and then transferred and played baseball at North Carolina A & T State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and fitness management and a master’s degree in physical education.
While in college Sawyer worked summers in the maintenance department for the local parks and recreation department. After he graduated, he taught physical education and health at a school for five years.
But he knew he wanted to work in parks and recreation. He said in his job as superintendent of recreation, he strives to help others.
“Being raised by a great family I was taught to give rather than to receive,” Sawyer said.
Whether he’s planning recurring events like the Christmas parade or the annual Fourth of July celebration, or starting new programming that features summer camps or sports tournaments, Sawyer says his focus is on helping the community.
“If I could help one person and change their life, I felt like I have done my job,” said Sawyer. “I feel like it is my purpose in life.”
The new year brings new opportunities for community engagement, Sawyer said. The parks and recreation department is offering a new activity, the “Tip-Tie-Toss Tournament,” in January that will continue through March. The event is for anyone age 16 or older and can include teams. Up two people may also register as a team to compete in the upcoming Cup Jam in January, ladder golf in February, and cornhole in March.
Sawyer said parks and recreation is hoping to have at least 40 teams participating in the Tip-Tie-Toss Tournament.
“We are trying to reach all individuals,” said Sawyer.
Sawyer enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristin, and their children Ava and Grey.
For more information about the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Parks and Recreation Department, visit the organization’s Facebook page.