Center is Dream Come True

When Eddie Shackelford began working at the Glenpool Recreation Center in 1993, he had to fit programs for all ages into a 3,000 sq. ft. building.
Despite the difficulties, he and the staff made the programs work.
Now they are located in a new 23,000 sq. ft. facility at 13800 South Peoria, that has been renamed the Glenpool/Jenks Recreation Center.
The name, however, doesn’t reflect the entire service area being serviced since participants come from Bixby, Keifer, Sapulpa, Okmulgee, Sand Springs, Mounds and Tulsa.
The center, opened just 19 months ago, May 2005, was welcomed by members of the various communities as demonstrated by recently tabulated attendance figures. At least 17,000 people signed in for activities and it was determined that another 3,000 also used the facility. The number more than doubles when the 24,000 people using the Olympic size swimming pool attendance is added.
Now, as before, it is Shackelford’s job as activities director to keep the center ready for use and help plan programs patrons want.
Shackelford is one of Tulsa County’s ‘‘Hidden Heroes’’ just doing his job each day to help area residents with their recreational needs. It is no small task to keep the facility operating six days a week.
The Glenpool/Jenks Recreation Center is the result of Vision 2025 funds and a lot of community input, he said. The swimming pool was not part of the original plans. However, a survey showed that was the top desire and was the Olympic size pool was added with the support of both the Glenpool and Jenks City officials. It is a dream come true.
Vision 2025 and the 4 to Fix Tulsa County projects have been very important to Tulsa County, Shackelford continued. This facility demonstrates how the county and cities, working together can build something wonderful for citizens.
Shackelford came to Glenpool in 1992 after working in other areas of the county park system.
‘‘I saw the recreational needs of the community change every year,’’ he said. Programs were changed accordingly and everyone knew that one day a larger facility would have to be built so more offerings would be available. Things took time, but came together with Vision 2025. People got involved and leadership with foresight was in place. That was the combination that made the dream come true.
‘‘Our job now is to develop the requested programs and it is my job — and the job of the staff — to meet the demands of ever-growing communities,’’ Shackelford added.
It might seem as if the facility is in the middle of nowhere as one leaves Glenpool, driving eastbound towards South Peoria. That nowhere quickly disappears at the East 41st St. and Peoria intersection. The 88 unit Glenshire Court apartment complex already has been built south of the recreation center and between 80 and 100 new homes immediately to the north are either under or scheduled for construction.
That population only adds to the client base.
Programs are focused on all ages, from youth to senior citizens. In addition, the facility is rented out for weddings, baby showers, family reunions and other events.
There are a lot of youth groups, basketball teams, volleyball teams and various leagues scheduling time, he said. In addition, there are cheerleader, Karate and self-defense classes for youth. Adults are participating in jazzercise, yoga and Tai Chi classes.
Participation is increasing weekly.
People driving past the center say they finally stopped to see what is inside the building, he said. They frequently say they cannot envision the cardiovascular room, the weight room and other activities. There also is a computer room tied into the Tulsa County MIS system. Often the new visitor signs up on the spot.
Shackelford began his career in 1982 with the Tulsa County Parks system at O’Brien Recreation Center. He also worked at the Bixby Community Center. Working at the different locations made it possible to expand his knowledge providing recreation to people in various communities and at different levels.
Each had its unique fit in the community being served, he said. ‘‘I knew that one day I would be in charge of a center and wanted the greatest operational knowledge possible.
It was in 1997 that he was formally named activities director at the Glenpool Center, even though he had been doing the work for some five years. That facility was at capacity and it was necessary to pick programs that the public wanted and could be accomplished.
‘‘Now, my job is to engineer excitement into this facility and give the staff the love and desire to do their jobs to the best of their ability,’’ Shackelford said. ‘‘We want to make this new facility desirable for organizations to want to use it for meetings and activities. We took the energy we had at the old facility and have put it in this building. There is equipment and space that makes it possible for people to enjoy themselves. We want it to be a place where they will want to keep coming back.
The Glenpool/Jenks Recreation Center is the result of a needs assessment survey between the two communities and then working together in its development, he said. Future programs will be adapted to meet the needs identified at that time.
‘‘I want to see us planning ahead in two or three years so we will have programs waiting for the people, not just planning them at that moment,’’ he said.

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