In her nearly 20 years as an employee of the Village of Rockville Centre’s Recreation Department, Karen Polito has worn her share of hats, including tennis instructor, preschool teacher, preschool director and program director.
Recently promoted to deputy superintendent, Polito is also the acting superintendent following this summer’s retirement of Ginger Creegan, who spent a remarkable 44 years on the job including the past four as superintendent.
“Ginger was a great mentor and I learned a lot from her,” Polito said. “I’m learning something new every day and growing more and more confident about moving into the position full-time. We’ve got a tremendous staff here.”
As acting superintendent, Polito oversees a staff of 10 full-time employees, anywhere from 50 to 150 part-time employees, all programs, as well as building maintenance. She said since reopening under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 safety guidelines in July, the Rec Center has been operating with fewer numbers — the summer playground program had 144 kids instead of the usual 400 — and has its cleaning routine “down to a T.”
“We began our preschool programs in late September and staggered our fall program openings,” Polito said. “Everything has gone extremely well. We’ve been open from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and have started to increase our weekend hours.”
Registration for winter programs, which includes staples such as Gymnastics and Cross Fit, and a new Sporty Fours, an introduction to athletics for 4-year-olds, opened Monday. Programs are scheduled to begin Jan. 4, Polito said, and run for 10 weeks.
Though some logistics need to be worked out, Polito said the fast-growing sport of pickleball will be a new addition to the Rec Center. Pickleball features elements similar to tennis, badminton and racquetball, played on a badminton sized court (20x44 feet) with solid paddles made of wood or composite material and a polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball. The height of the net is a few inches lower than a tennis net.
“There’s a lot of interest in it and we have space for two courts in our upstairs gym,” she said. “We just have to figure out a few things, but I expect it to happen soon.”
Also a first, replacing the annual Breakfast with Santa, will be a Drive-By to see Santa and some of his friends. It’s happening Dec. 19 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. No fee will be charged and each child will be given a Do-It-Yourself Ornament kit to bring home. Pre-registration is required at www.rockvillecentre.recdesk.com. “We usually have 800 people at the breakfast so we’re expecting this to be a popular alternative,” Polito said.