"I was surprised," Clanton said, about winning the Volunteer of the Year Award at the Georgia Recreation and Park Association banquet in Jekyll Island last week. "I did not know I was nominated [until] I got a phone call and I was told I was nominated. I was pleasantly surprised.
"I've been with the Cobias for 11 years, volunteering. Swimming means a lot to me. I've been involved with it [at] Woodland High School because my children have been involved with it and I've been in Cobias longer than the high school. ... To be honest, I don't think I could have gotten this award if it wasn't for my volunteers because I rely heavily on the parents and these parents really, really step up and they help me out so much."
As the swim team coordinator for the Cobias, Clanton's role ranges from working with the coaches to serving as a liaison between the team's booster club and the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department. One of the most rewarding aspects about volunteering with the Cobias, she said is working with its members, who are between the ages of 7 and 18. The Cobias, which went undefeated in its Cherokee County league this year, practices at Dellinger Park Pool and is a GRPA summer league team.
"She has been in that capacity for two years and she is by far the best booster club/swim team coordinator in the five years since I've been here," said Kristin Strickland, aquatics coordinator for the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department. "She makes my job 100 percent easier.
"Once I give her a task, I always know that the swim team is taken care of. I don't have to worry about looking in on them. I don't have to follow up with them. Becky knows what she's doing and she does it very well. She just makes my job a whole lot easier when it comes to the swim team."
On Thursday, along with Clanton's recognition, the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department also won the GRPA Agency of the Year Award for cities with populations of 10,001 to 20,000 residents. Prior to this year, the last time the local agency had received any state accolade from the GRPA was in the 1960s, when the department's first director won the Distinguished Professional of the Year Award.
"From a department standpoint, we were extremely pleased," said Greg Anderson, director of the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department. "Our mission statement for the city of Cartersville is to provide quality park facilities, recreational programs in our community, where participation and enjoyment are achieved in a safe and family-oriented environment.
"That's what we try to do and to be nominated and given the award by your peers -- this is voted on by other departments within the GRPA -- [is] very rewarding. ... Of course as a department, the Agency of the Year is the top award that you can get. [However] I think that the volunteer award is more important because we're professionals. We get paid to do what we do. It's our job, although it's more than a job to our employees, but the fact of the matter is it is what we do. But Becky, she's volunteering her time, her resources away from her family. Although ultimately it is to help her kids, that's who she started out doing it for. But she loves working with the swim team. She loves working with our department and she does an excellent job."