New Orange recreation center director outlines passion for youth, plan to serve

Published 12:30 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

The new Orange Recreation Center is on track to be complete by mid summer, and the city has named Anthony Dandrige as the person to take charge of the new facility.

While the center will be open to all ages, the new director has a heart for youth.

“We are going to make sure it is fun to get active,” Dandrige said. “When you think of exercise, it can be daunting. When there is fun involved, you don’t even realize you are using certain parts of your body you are not used to using, but you are having fun while you are doing it. Our goal is to make sure we are bringing the fun into exercise.”

MORE COVERAGE: Recreation center provides greater Orange more options.

Dandridge’s passion for youth ministry came with him wanting to be a positive role model.

“I saw a poster once that said to be what you needed to be when you were younger,” he said. “When I was younger, I needed someone to be that listening ear. I needed someone to take me under their wing and tell me to not go in the wrong direction. I just want to be that example.”

The director wants children to feel safe being kids.

“I want them to actually have a childhood,” he said. “Some of the youth are dealing with adult situations. They don’t have anyone to turn to or go, and I think the rec is a perfect place for them to go. As long as they follow the rules and are respectful, everyone is going to have an enjoyable time.”

Parks Division Manager James Lawrence is looking forward to seeing how Dandrige elevates the center.

“Anthony is doing a great job,” Lawrence said. “… We know we are going to do volleyball. We know we are going to do basketball. We are hoping to host some tournaments. We will build on that and try to extend it… Youth is going to be a big focus, but the center is for all citizens.”

Dandrige said he is the right fit for the job because of his work in the community.

“Youth is my passion,” he said. “It is my purpose. I am a basketball coach, a substitute teacher for West Orange Middle School. I used to be a youth pastor at a few churches here. They say children are the future, and I just want to make sure we have a bright future.”

— Submitted by Chris Moore