Dublin Villager

Dublin Youth Athletics

Link set to retire after 32 years with organization

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Jim Link proudly overlooked the fields at Avery Park in Dublin during a typical night there July 10 -- baseball and softball games were being played at the nine-field complex, with about 200 children participating.

A lot of the credit for that scene goes to Link, who, after 32 years of service to Dublin Youth Athletics, recently announced his retirement as athletics director effective April 30, 2015.

The DYA board hopes to find Link's replacement by the end of the year.

Link, 66, said he will remain with the program part time.

"Jim has been an icon in the Dublin community for over 30 years and his tireless commitment and passion for the youth of Dublin will be his legacy," said Becky Ciminillo, DYA board president. "We will lean on Jim to help us through this transition and continue to build upon and grow the organization that he has worked so hard to develop to where it is today. Thankfully, Jim has stated that he will remain active in the DYA organization beyond his retirement in project-related activities."

When Link joined DYA, the complex at Avery Park consisted of two adult softball and two youth fields. It since has grown to nine fields and has included the addition of lights, fences, dugouts and a batting cage.

Link said funds were raised for the park's development through tournaments, donations and funding from the city.

"We've done all these things over the last 30 years," he said. "This has taken a little bit of time. You come out here and there's no finer facility in the area than here, unless it be Coffman High School. There's no finer rec facility and people who come here and play make the same comments."

Under Link, DYA has played host to 15 Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series and 11 Wayne Williams Memorial tournaments. Williams is a former volunteer with the program who died of cancer in 2002.

Link has been associated with the Coffman baseball program since 1997, serving as the public address announcer. He said he will remain in that role. He also has coached baseball, softball and basketball at the youth, middle school and high school levels, including three seasons as the first girls basketball coach at Dublin Jerome.

Link, who is a retired actuary in the insurance industry, also will remain as coach of the Sells Middle School eighth-grade girls basketball team.

Link's family also has been involved with DYA. His daughter, Kelly Rigano, is the concession stand manager at Avery Park, his wife, Linda, is a volunteer and his son, Jim, umpired, refereed basketball and helped maintain fields. The younger Link played in the program and is a 1995 graduate of Coffman, where he played baseball.

DYA provides recreation and travel programs for more than 3,300 youth participants in Dublin. The organization is the joint effort of parent volunteers, including more than 500 parent volunteer coaches, the city's Recreation Services department and Dublin City Schools.

Other sports include basketball, lacrosse and volleyball.

"The day-to-day stuff is pretty busy, but the good news is there are an awful lot of good parents in this community," Link said. "We have hundreds of parents who step up and coach and pitch in and try to create a good experience for the kids."

One of the program's former participants, one-time Coffman baseball standout Austin Cousino, signed with the Seattle Mariners on June 12 and is playing for their short-season Class A team in Everett, Wash.

"You get to know these families," Link said. "The fun thing about this is not that they're just good ballplayers, they're good people -- they're even better people.

"That's the fun part of it. If you strictly look at them as ballplayers then you're basically looking at them as a commodity. You have to sit down and understand who the kids are and, 99 times out of 100, if the kid is a quality kid it's because the parents are quality parents."

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