With one year on the job and experience in every sport and program offered under his belt, Fountain Inn Recreation Department Director Chris Barrineau feels more prepared than ever to accomplish his professional goal.
“Our mission is to create community through people, parks and programs,” Barrineau said. “We want to bring people together. I think recreation is the No. 1 way to bring a community together, to break down the barriers that are out there – social, economic, racial or anything. Sports always have an ability to break those things down. That’s what we want. We want to create a better community here.”
More and more people are getting in on the act. More than 1,000 children ages 4 to 16 participated in baseball, softball,, football, basketball, volleyball and cheerleading leagues offered by the Fountain Inn Recreation Department last year, Barrineau’s first in the position held for decades by Rodger “P.D.” Terry.
That marked growth over recent years, so much that baseball and basketball leagues had to opt for games on Saturdays.
“It’s a good thing that we have growth in our programs, but it’s also hard having to find different places to play everybody,” Barrineau said.
The town’s facilities are being fully utilized.
“We’re trying to figure out the programs that people want and that we can provide the space for,” Barrineau said. “Everybody’s saying let’s try to get soccer, let’s try to get this and that, but right now we just don’t have the space for those things. We’re trying to match the need up with the space that we have.”
A tennis program was added last year, taking advantage of city courts, and participation warrants its inclusion again, Barrineau said.
Fountain Inn has five public parks and an indoor activities center that invite people of all ages to get active and have fun. The largest parks, Fountain Inn City Park and Woodside Park, feature baseball and softball fields, football fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and a quarter-mile walking trail. Fairview Street Park, Georgia Street Park, Sanctified Hill Neighborhood Park and the new Country Gardens Greenway have children’s play areas, basketball courts and walking trail. A paved, handicapped-accessible bicycle trail is included at Georgia Street.
The Fountain Inn Activities Center boasts a full gymnasium, fitness room with weights and exercise equipment, meeting space for groups and a newly renovated kitchen. Children and senior citizens are active in an array of programs at the center.
And there are plenty of recreational opportunities outside of city-run leagues and programs.
Hunting and fishing are popular pastimes for local residents. Lake Rabon to the southwest and the Enoree River to the east offer boating, paddling and fishing, and a slew of reservoirs and ponds in the area entice sportsmen with bass, catfish, crappie, bream and more. Nearby Wildlife Management Areas offer public hunting opportunities for deer, turkey, dove and more.
Nearby golf courses offer swings on the links. Fox Run Country Club, Willow Creek Golf Club and Holly Tree Country Club in Simpsonville are close, and Carolina Springs Golf Club has 27 holes on Scuffletown Road right in Fountain Inn. Businesses and organizations across the Upstate descend on the large, ward-winning, semiprivate club regularly for special events and functions.
Whatever the game, participation matters more than competition, Barrineau said.
"Recreational sports are not all about whose kid is the best or what team won every game,” he said. “It’s about playing with your friends and learning about the different sports you’re playing. We want our kids to, No. 1, have a good time playing sports, and No. 2, to teach them more about the fundamentals and prepare them if they want to continue playing."