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Pittsfield Wrapping Up Summer Recreation Programs, Looks to Fall
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:32AM / Friday, August 18, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Parks Department is looking for another program for the fall now that the NFL stopped the Punt, Pass, and Kick program.
 
The youth football competition had been sponsored by the National Football League since 1961. In the spring, the NFL affiliate USA Football voted to end the program during its annual summit. Instead, the NFL is launching a flag football program in schools, ending its sanctioning of the Punt, Pass, and Kick program.
 
"We believe programs such as NFL FLAG-In-Schools offer a unique opportunity to expand our reach and introduce more kids to the fundamentals of football in school and recreational environments," reads a release from USA Football.
 
But word hadn't reached Pittsfield until just last week when Recreation Coordinator Rebecca Manship reached out to other programs in the state as she began looking toward the fall.
 
"I learned last week that the NFL has ended the punt, pass, and kick program. We'll try to figure out if something is possible that we can do in the fall, either related to that or just some program for that," Manship told the Parks Commission on Tuesday.
 
Locally, the city saw many youths succeed in the competition. Last year, two local children participated in the New England Patriots Team Championship at Gillette Stadium.
 
The loss of the program opens the door for a replacement, but what that will be hasn't been determined. Nonetheless, the city's summer programming is coming to an end in the coming weeks and the shift is now toward looking at fall. 
 
Manship said having the lifeguards stationed at Burbank Park will end on Sunday. 
 
"Wednesdays through Fridays have been really packed with camps and different programs," Manship said.
 
The city's playground program, which brings playground leaders to Clapp, Deming, and the Common, comes to an end on Sunday. And the final outdoor movie night is scheduled for Friday as well.
 
That, however, was a rescheduled date as the weather put a damper on three movie nights this summer. The showing of "Minions" was rained out twice, with last week the city getting as much of the movie in as it could on the rescheduled date last Friday.
 
"We have the reschedule of 'Storks' this Friday night. We're hoping to get that in but the weather forecast doesn't look so great. We're keeping our fingers crossed," Manship said. "We did have to cancel three movies on their original dates — two of which are 'Minions' and 'Storks' — 'Zootopia,' we weren't able to reschedule for this summer but we will reschedule it as part of next summer."
 
Manship praised the Just for Kick's soccer program, which was held at Clapp Park held early in August. Manship said 30 children had registered for the program and 28 actually participated.
 
The Dig This Volleyball program on Aug. 7 and 8 saw seven children participate at the Common. Earlier this year, the department held a golf program and a track and field program.
 
Now the focus shifts on the Halloween Parade and finding a replacement for the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick. And trying to sort out how the other sports programs will share the playing fields.
 
Manship said a new superintendent was hired and an annual meeting to discuss the use of the various fields was canceled because most of the organizations using the fields had already gotten the ball rolling. But, there isn't much of a conflict. The only question outstanding is regarding the use of Clapp Park for soccer. 
 
Currently, the fence for the baseball field is up, which was added this year as part of the renovations to create the Buddy Pellerin Field, and the Parks Department is now figuring out the timeline for the removal of the fence for the fall and winter, and when the soccer club would need to use it.
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