It’s only fitting that the person who oversees recreation programs for the Town of Morristown, through its Parks and Recreation Department, enjoys spending time outdoors.
Although she claims to have slowed down a bit recently, Frankie Cox remains very physically active, with hobbies like kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.
“I’ve always been active,” Cox said. “I used to do team sports in addition to outdoor activities, but once my work schedule became busier, outdoor recreation became easier from a health perspective. investment of time.”
Kayaking, on the other hand, can be accomplished in a group or solo and is very relaxing.
“It can be a workout, but I prefer slow rivers and lakes,” Cox said. “You just need to push the shore and relax while enjoying nature.”
She normally takes a number of pictures while kayaking, with one exception.
“During an early morning float I watched an eagle dive for fish, I watched in awe with my camera on my lap as it flew about 15 feet above my head, this which is very close for an eagle. I got great shots of blue herons and cranes, but missed the eagle,” she said.
At the height of Covid-19, when people were advised to maintain a six-foot distance from each other and team sports events were cancelled, kayaking, a naturally distant group activity, took off. gained popularity. Cox and his friends’ favorite trips were the sunset and moonrise trips on Lake Cherokee.
“We would go out and watch the sunset,” Cox said. “One night we actually saw a comet.”
Cox is originally from Morristown; she graduated from West High and earned a degree in physical and health education, with a minor in recreation, from East Tennessee State University.
“I wanted to be a teacher, so I studied education. During my last year, I heard more and more about the field of recreation. So I chose a minor in recreation instead of my certification to teach,” she said.
“I realized that the entertainment field offered more flexibility in content and format for working with children and adults.”
“I grew up camping, hiking and being outdoors. When I realized there was actually an area you could get into, I was interested. I used to joke around and telling people I could play for a living, but that only lasted when I was on the program side,” Cox said.
His first job outside of ETSU was at the Kingsport non-profit organization, Rascals Teen Center, where young people had the opportunity to socialize in a drug- and alcohol-free environment and were encouraged to develop positive attitudes. to themselves and the community.
“Basically it was a place where the kids could come, watch movies and play games in the arcade with their friends. They also had one of the nicest dance floors in the tri-city,” said Cox.
After working for Girls Incorporated of Hamblen County as Senior Teen Program Specialist, she was then offered a position with Kingsport for the Parks and Recreation Department. In her role there, she was able to continue to impact young people while sharing her enthusiasm for recreation with children and the elderly. Ten years later, she accepted the position of General Manager at Girls Inc., focusing on the administrative side of informal education and recreation.
She spent 13 years there, honing her skills in management, program development and community relations, before accepting the position of Superintendent of Recreation at Morristown Parks and Recreation.
No, Cox is not a “big fan” of the TV series. In fact, she hasn’t watched many episodes of Parks and Rec starring Amy Pohler as the indomitable optimist, Leslie Snopes. Family members, however, noted the irony.
“My nephews started calling me ‘Leslie’ when I took the job,” Cox said.
Similar to one of the show’s themes, however, is the fact that a variety of personalities create a team at the Morristown Parks and Rec office.
The official job description for the superintendent of recreation includes overseeing and directing the sporting and special events division within the department. With that, Cox said, the big role was building relationships in the community, developing partnerships and finding resources to deliver different types of programs.
She also continued to volunteer with Girls Inc. and United Way of Hamblen County. She served as Chair of the Board of Girls Inc. and is currently Secretary of the Board of United Way. She is also chair of the Hamblen County Board of Health, where she is very active in the Moving Morristown/Healthy Hamblen initiative.
“This particular group has been great to work with to bring more opportunities and resources for wellness programs to the community,” she said.
In May, Cox took on more responsibility when she was asked to take on the role of acting director of parks and recreation following the retirement of Craig Price.
“As Superintendent of Recreation, I was able to learn from Director Price the established practices of the department as a whole,” Cox said. “As interim manager, I have been more involved in the park maintenance division and while continuing in my oversight role with respect to programming and athletics. The opening of our new inclusive park , Jolley Park, has been a big priority.”
One of Cox’s top priorities is to recognize the efforts of a large group of volunteers.
“There is no way we can run this program without them. The time and passion they put into coaching is amazing. They dedicate their time and energy starting with tryouts and continuing throughout the season with practices and games. Most then host an end-of-season party or awards banquet. Some coaches, like Billy Ray Martin, have been there for 30 to 50 years. A few of them, like John Gullion, editor of the Citizen Tribune, not only coached in tee-ball and softball, but also in basketball. Most coaches are parents, but not all. We have grandparents, uncles, aunts and others who just love to coach.
There have been a few surprises over the years, including the increased interest in pickleball, which is played at the Talley Ward Recreation Center.
“Pickleball has grown so much that we average 30 participants a day,” Cox said. The local group, the Hamblen County Chapter of USA Pickleball, recently held two clinics and had a great turnout. They’re looking for more courts to play on,” Cox said.
The concerts at Fulton-Hill Park began in June and will take place on the fourth Friday of each month until September.
“The views are great; you don’t have a lot of city sounds,” Cox said. “People can sit in the shade under the trees. There will be food trucks with refreshing choices. The music starts at 6 p.m. and lasts about two hours.
Additionally, Starlight Cinema will be held on the third Friday of each month at Fred Miller Park. Food trucks and refreshments will be on hand with the film starting at dusk. In athletics, All Stars games continue as Little League winds down while adults wrap up their softball and grass volleyball seasons and begin Adult Mixed Kickball.
Despite the increased work schedule, Cox finds time to maintain the health of his body and mind; she went camping the weekend before this interview.
Family is important; she enjoys spending time with her family and spoiling her nephews and nieces. As the second eldest among four siblings, Cox has always appreciated the value of childhood lessons, especially those that reinforce that indomitable ability to overcome challenges.
“I’m a middle child, with two younger brothers and an older sister,” she laughed, “That’s how you learn to survive.” Kidding aside, she has a close family who support each other in everything she does and continue to enjoy the outdoors together as she did throughout her childhood.
“We are fortunate to have parents who gave us these experiences as children and who taught us that recreation and well-being were an important part of life.”