SOUTH PORTLAND – For the past six years Sabrina Best, 26, has worked hard to develop quality recreational programming for South Portland residents. Now her efforts have been rewarded.

Last week, Best received the Dr. Bill Eckert Young Professional award during the Maine Recreation & Parks Association’s annual awards luncheon held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.

Best’s job title with the South Portland Parks and Recreation Department is a recreation coordinator. She grew up in Freeport, but has called South Portland home for the past eight years.

She has an associate’s degree in business administration with a concentration in sports management from Southern Maine Community College and also just completed a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Southern New Hampshire University.

In a news release announcing Best’s award, City Manager Jim Gailey said, “Sabrina has done a tremendous job developing and providing quality recreational programming for all user groups.”

In addition to her work at the Community Center, Best is also in charge of creating programming for the Wainwright Farm Recreation Complex, which received a Facilities of Merit award last week, as well.

“The Wainwright Farm’s staff is some of the most talented and dedicated facility employees in the area and the product they produce all year long is outstanding,” Gailey added.

This week Best spoke with the Current about her work for the city and winning the young professional award.

Q: What is your job, exactly?

A: I coordinate all of the youth sports programs that are offered through the South Portland Recreation Department. I also manage the Wainwright Recreation Complex, along with the Greenbelt Walkway. In addition, I am the state coordinator for the annual Red Claws Hot Shot Contest, which is sponsored by the Maine Parks & Recreation Association.

Q: What do you most like about your work?

A: I love being able to work with the public, especially the kids. I would go crazy if I sat in an office all day. This position really allows me to go out and interact with community members. I grew up playing sports and felt that I was able to learn many lifelong lessons through my youth sports experiences. That’s why I enjoy being able to have such a large impact on so many young lives within our community and state.

Q: Were you aware you’d been nominated for the young professional award?

A: I had no idea. Looking back, I can now understand why I had five people call or text asking if I was going to make the awards banquet. It was great because a lot of the individuals I work with were already there because of the Wainwright award so I didn’t catch on until I saw my parents sitting at our table, but even still they tried to tell me they were just there for the Wainwright award and free food. I was completely surprised, but very honored.

Q: What does winning the award mean to you?

A: I am typically the one who works really hard but stays behind the scenes. I also try to give recognition to others who contribute to projects and programs, such as the volunteer coaches.

I feel that the biggest reward you can have when you work hard is for yourself to feel accomplished, but it’s nice to know how much others appreciate your hard work, too. So to be recognized is a little overwhelming, but humbling at the same time.

Q: What does winning the award mean to the recreation program overall?

A: I think that it really speaks volumes to the amount of effort that everyone in the South Portland community puts into offering such high quality recreation programs. It’s not just one person that develops successful programs, but everyone involved from the coaches, parents and officials, to the parks department and general staff. It’s really a team effort and our South Portland community should be very proud.

Q: Do you feel like a double winner since the Wainwright Farms also won an award?

A: Yes! It’s funny because we sort of felt like South Portland cleaned house at the awards. All kidding aside, though, I think that winning these two awards this year, and having Ted Hellier win the Maine Recreation & Parks Association’s Citizen of the Year award last year are just three examples of how strong and committed our community is to recreation

Sabrina Best

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