MILTON, Ga. — Jim Cregge never set out to be Milton’s Parks and Recreation director, but he was being primed for the role without knowing it.
After coaching his three children in youth sports, creating an umpiring program and serving in multiple capacities for local park organizations, Cregge eventually fell into his role with Milton.
Cregge worked over 30 years in the electronics industry, mostly in the field of security technology.
When his three children became involved in youth sports at Bell Memorial Park, Cregge began coaching and scheduling games. That role evolved into Cregge serving as the Hopewell Youth Association president and being appointed to Alpharetta’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Meanwhile, Cregge founded a mentorship program that is now in its 22nd year.
While coaching at Bell Memorial, Cregge was made aware that there was no association that could provide umpires for coach-pitch baseball and softball.
He recruited teenagers from local neighborhoods, paying them out of his own pocket while they were taught to umpire. While the program is aimed at teaching the rules associated with umpiring, Cregge said it also an avenue to instill life skills.
“It’s called a youth umpire program, but I prefer to call it employment 101,” he said.
Cregge said the program instructs teenagers on decision-making, how to work as a teammate, applying for jobs and conflict resolution.
“We are trying to get these young people further ahead of their peers,” Cregge said. “The program itself is challenging. We make the kids work to get in.”
Cregge believes his mentorship program was crucial in his appointment as department director. It showed that he was in it for the long haul.
Cregge began his current role in 2012 and said he is “blessed” to have the opportunity.
“The saying is that it takes a village to raise a child and this village helped me to raise mine,” he said. “It is an honor to serve this community and to be able to give back to the many people who have helped me and supported me over the years. I tell people all the time that I think I have the greatest job in the world.”
As director, Cregge creates programming and schedules facilities for Milton’s parks and youth athletics and ensures that participants’ needs are being met.
He also states the importance of public input for the Parks and Recreation Department.
“We want to encourage the people of Milton to get out and use the broad range of facilities we already have while we ask for their help figuring out what do they want next,” he said.
Cregge’s role as a youth coach has continued during his time with the city, and he is now coaching his 65th youth team. He and his wife, Kathleen, will celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary this year and are adjusting to an empty-nester lifestyle, he said.