People in your Neighborhood: Jesse DeLille takes the reigns at La Jolla Rec Center

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As a child he was involved in all manner of sports, the new La Jolla Recreation Center director, Jesse DeLille told La Jolla Light. Growing up, he played soccer, baseball, basketball, football and tennis, so eventually, he took his athleticism into a career in recreation. He worked at the Standley Park Recreation Center for the past five years, and last month, this Lakeside resident took over for La Jolla Rec Center director Nicole Otjen, who moved to the Nobel Rec Center.

How did you begin working in the recreation biz?

“I started as a rec leader fairly quickly out of San Diego State … I worked at day camps, summer camps; I did an afterschool tennis camp for a little bit and became a City of San Diego Rec Leader (a recreation center steward) from there. So most of my professional background experience is in recreation.”

Where did you grow up?

“I was born and raised in San Diego. My wife says that makes me a unicorn, in that (it’s rare to have) someone living in San Diego who was actually born and raised here. Tierrasanta is my hometown, and I was always a huge sports guy.”

What are your favorite teams?

“I go hometown, so I’m a huge Padres fan;, they are my No. 1 team. I mean, they are the only team left! But it’s an exciting time, we have Manny Machado, and I actually went with my dad to Opening Day.”

Where do you stand on the Chargers (who moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017)?

“They went from my favorite team to my least favorite team. I couldn’t stay with them. That was pretty disheartening.”

Do you see a value in sports for youth?

“Part of our mantra at the afterschool tennis program was promoting social values that could be used on and off the court. I’m a huge advocate of the fact that sports is more than just playing a game. Kids learn lessons that help them become successful adults — teamwork, dedication, hard work, commitment. A lot of the social values that make for successful adults are learned through sports. And sports is also a great outlet for kids because sports give them an opportunity to do something constructive and productive. That’s a powerful thing for youth.”

What are your thoughts on La Jolla Rec Center programs?

“We offer a lot of things for youth and older adults and seniors, so this center is in really good shape. But I’m excited to see if I can rejuvenate the sports programming for the older kids — the preteens and early teens. We used to have a really active flag football program here, it would be cool to get that going again and to participate with other area teams.

A lot of people don’t know the City of San Diego’s Parks & Rec Department has a full, citywide league (based at rec centers) in soccer, baseball, softball, football, basketball, etc. To get a consistent group of kids come and play and participate in those leagues would be very cool, so that’s something I would love to get going again.

We also offer a lot of events here that do a great job of reaching the community. For example, the Spring Egg Hunt is coming up Saturday, April 20, doors open at 9:30 a.m., so we want people to come out to that one. I’ve heard there’s a pretty big turnout, and thankfully, I have a solid staff that’s been here for a while, they’ve hosted the egg hunt multiple times. My job will be to help how I can and not mess it up! I’m excited to see it.”

What excites you about this center and this job?

“It’s always exciting to come to a new site and see how everything is going, to see what’s successful and what I can put my twist on. There are a lot of very active community members with a lot of ideas for what they’d like to see happen. We can work together to improve this site. This is a historic building, which is cool, but there is only so much you can do with it. Still, there’s room where we could make improvements and update things.

Right now, we’re thinking of ways we could possibly switch programs to get more participation. For example, we’re thinking of taking our Pee Wee Sports class to Saturdays, when the center is just cranking with all the kids … and offer something that wasn’t there before. ”

La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St., is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. For a program schedule, visit bit.ly/myreccenter or call (858) 552-1658.

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