After leading Bryan County’s recreation efforts for more than three decades, it’s time for Pratt Lockwood to have a little recreation of his own.
Lockwood, who started with the county in August 1982, is retiring at the end of June. His last day in the office is Friday.
“For the first six months I’m not going to do anything,” he laughed. “Then my wife (Joyce) and I plan to do some traveling and eventually I’ll buy a boat and spend a lot of time fishing.”
When Lockwood started with the county, North Bryan had a football field, tennis court and one baseball field, while South Bryan had a football field, tennis court and two baseball fields. That has changed a great deal in his nearly 34 years on the job.
“The changes we’ve seen have really been because we had county commissioners who were pro-recreation and the public has appreciated it,” Lockwood said. “I just played a small part in it.”
Hendrix Park, northeast of Pembroke, has since been developed into a 100-acre park with two four-field baseball/softball complexes, football field, soccer complex, gymnasium, tennis courts and a lake.
On the south end, Richmond Hill has developed the original 66-acre park to include two football fields, a three-field complex, a four-field complex, two prep-level fields, six tennis courts, covered batting cages and two gyms.
In addition, the 124-acre DeVaul Henderson Park behind the County Administrative Complex has a four soccer fields — two of which are multi-purpose football/soccer synthetic turf fields — three youth softball fields, two adult softball fields, one full size baseball field, the dog-friendly Bark Park, and a lake surrounded by a walking/running trail.
Henderson will also soon be the site of a 10-court tennis complex.
“I can remember when Richmond Hill basically had one team at each age for baseball, softball and basketball,” Lockwood said. “Now there are about 70 baseball and softball teams and 60 for basketball.”
He was recognized for his efforts in 2010 with the James Colley Award by the District 2 Georgia Parks and Recreation Association. The award recognizes a professional who has made outstanding and lasting contributions to leisure services and is the highest honor bestowed on a district professional.
Lockwood grew up as a “rec brat,” he says, because his father Max started Statesboro’s recreation program in the early 1950s.
“I started working for him in the summers early on,” Lockwood said. “It was in my blood.”
After earning a degree in public recreation from Georgia Southern in 1977, Lockwood spent time with the rec departments in Milledgeville and Claxton before coming to Bryan County.
“I’ve had an excellent staff over the years who worked hard to provide what people wanted,” he said. “Aside from good schools and low taxes, recreational opportunities is a big reason why people choose where to live.”