Life’s work for Tameka Dillard is all about play

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 19, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Since elementary school, Tameka Dillard’s life has revolved around recreation.

She’s been playing basketball in Suffolk’s recreation centers since she was 8.

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As a Lady Cavalier, Dillard helped carry Lakeland High School’s girls’ basketball team to the state competitions twice. Her success on the court also won her a scholarship to Virginia Union University.

Dillard also made it to state competitions in throwing shot put and discus during all of her four years at Lakeland. In fact, she still holds the school record for shot put.

While majoring in criminal justice in college, Dillard played volleyball and basketball.

It was those summers during college when Dillard began sharing her love of recreation with other youth in Suffolk.

She spent the summer of 1998 working as a recreational leader at the parks and recreation department. She also helped coach at the Lakeland Summer Basketball Camp.

Initially, Dillard had hoped to become an FBI agent, or work in the corrections/investigative field, after graduating in 1999. Unable to find work in that field, she came home to Suffolk and her first love: recreation.

From a recreational leader, she moved up to a coordinator, then to director at Mack Benn, Booker T. Washington, and Birdsong recreation centers. At Birdsong, Dillard was promoted to a recreation specialist, and finally in 2002, the department’s recreation supervisor for athletics.

&uot;We’re definitely growing,&uot; Dillard says in her Birdsong office. &uot;We’ve got new athletic programs, and we’re even bringing back some of the old sports.

&uot;Softball and youth basketball had gone away for a while, and a lot of people had been inquiring about them, so we decided to bring them back.&uot;

Youth basketball and indoor soccer begin in December. Twice a year, the department holds women’s basketball and men’s softball leagues, as well as a multitude of basketball tournaments.

&uot;We deal with a lot of athletic associations, churches, civic leagues and local businesses,&uot; Dillard says. &uot;We’re going to have a lot more programs for the city. I can’t wait for the Driver Transmitter Station fields (to open) because they are going to be our site for softball.&uot;

Those four fields, which will abut Monogram Field behind Nansemond River High School, are currently being built.

Dillard says her job is job is far from finished.

&uot;We want to do more for the city. I want to hold more sporting events, like softball tournaments, and indoor and outdoor basketball tournaments.&uot;

Name? Tameka Dillard

Age? 27

Hometown? Suffolk

Family? Single but involved

Education? Lakeland High School graduate, B.A. in criminal justice from Virginia Union University

Career/occupation? Recreation supervisor for the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation.

Volunteer activities? Youth events at my church, Solid Rock of Apostolic Faith; city functions.

Favorite thing about Suffolk? Watching it grow.

Why did you pursue your chosen career? I love recreation.

Favorite thing about your job? Implementing programs that the public wants to participate in.

Least favorite thing about your job? Disappointing a customer.

What accomplishments are you proudest of? Graduating from Virginia Union, becoming a recreational supervisor.

Who or what motivates and inspires you? My grandmother, Paige Bivins.

Favorite way to spend free time? Watching a good movie, going shopping.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? The sky’s the limit if you put your mind to it.

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? Faith, happiness, enjoyment.

We all have our 15 minutes of fame in this life. How would you spend you time in the spotlight? Thanking the Lord for my 15 minutes of fame and talk about my gospel-singing group, Voice Anointed ‘N Christ.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Always listen to my grandmother, because her wisdom has always been right.