The late Alan Hugh Bumgarner had a quote, “Better sports for kids, better kids for life”, which he used regularly.
“It was on every email he sent,” recalled Jeremy Bryant, community development manager for Amherst County.
As a testament to Bumgarner’s dedication to the youth of the county, the fields at Coolwell Park are now known as Alan Bumgarner Fields. A groundbreaking ceremony was held April 5 to unveil the sign with Bumgarner’s friends in attendance, hours after the County Board of Supervisors approved the measure.
“He was a good friend to everyone he met,” said Bryant, who also coached youth soccer while Bumgarner worked with the recreation department. “He managed the fields at Coolwell Park. Alan was always mentoring the kids and always talking about the bigger impact the sport had on the kids and the life lessons.
Bumgarner, who served as Amherst County’s sports specialist for nearly 15 years, died Sept. 1 at age 63. In August 2014, he was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to represent District 3 on the Amherst County School Board, a seat he held until June. 2016. District 3 is the western part of the county that includes parts of Madison Heights, Monroe, Elon, and Pleasant View.
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A County native who lived in Madison Heights, Bumgarner was passionate about young people and spent many evenings at Coolwell Park to ensure the grounds were in good condition for football on Saturdays, and his dedication led to a yearly increase in numbers. of attendees, by county.
“He never cared who won or lost,” Bryant said. “He always focused on how [sports] would shape them to be better.
Bumgarner has worked with youth football programs, the Monelison Bruins and Amherst Wolverines, coordinated adult sports programs and willingly filled many other Department of Recreation and Parks sponsored programs when needed, Bryant said.
“Alan Bumgarner was active in his community,” Bryant said.
According to a staff report to the board of supervisors, Bumgarner was so committed to the football program that he showed up for training the same day he was discharged from hospital, only to be readmitted the following day.
“He believed that providing outdoor and athletic opportunities for Amherst children was essential to a happy and healthy childhood,” the staff report said. “The county can commemorate him by naming these fields after him to express our gratitude for all he meant to this county and the influence he had on families all around Amherst.”
David Pugh, chairman of the board, said Bumgarner had another saying: “Dress appropriately because it’s always cooler in Coolwell.”
“It’s the least we can do to honor him,” Pugh said of naming the fields in his honor. “God bless him and God bless his family.”
Amherst County School Board member John Grieser, a close friend of Bumgarner, said he was grateful to the county for committing to renaming Coolwell Fields in honor of his well-deserved mentor. honor.
“Alan meant so much to so many people, and a lot of his outreach was in those areas,” Grieser said. “It was only fitting to commemorate him in a place where he put his heart into it.”
Grieser said he joked this year that he wouldn’t coach football, but changed his mind. “But damn it, Alan’s voice is still in my head.”
Bumgarner and his legacy are largely responsible for the success of county recreation programs, Grieser said.
“I appreciate there being a marker there that I can point out to my kids and grandkids and explain what a great man he was,” he said.