Coordinator aims to give kids someplace to go

Danielle Saucier took a gamble this summer when she accepted the secretarial position with the Hammond Recreation Department.

After interning with the Superbowl Host Committee and assisting Southeastern Louisiana University’s assistant athletic director when she attended school there, the recreation department position wasn’t exactly what she had been looking for.

The 23-year-old Destrehan native, who earned her degree in sports management from SLU in 2012, had been looking for a job in her career field for months and had been passed over for a position with the St. Charles Parish Recreation Center in February.

Saucier decided she wasn’t giving up.

Her determination to work with children and her love of sports led her to call the Hammond Recreation Department, where she was offered the position the same day she interviewed for the job.

Four months later, her gamble paid off. Saucier was hired as the center’s youth coordinator.

“I just thought that it was really meant to be,” Saucier said of her decision to work for the Hammond department.

In her new role, Saucier will oversee a new after-school program, additional summer camps and monthly activities that include sports and educational components.

The programs are the brainchild of Director Monroe Jones, who said Saucier is the perfect fit for the new position, which is designed to help youth in the Hammond community.

“It’s recreation for a purpose,” Jones said. “Yes, it’s great to have fun but there has to be a purpose, and education is key.”

Saucier’s passion for young people, her outgoing personality and her caring nature can make the programs successful, he said.

“She knows the importance of education here,” Jones said.

Saucier’s experience as a former athlete will also help.

“I’ve been playing sports since I was 4,” Saucier said, adding that she’s played basketball, tennis and ran track. She has participated twice in the Junior Olympics.

“I just love watching sports,” Saucier said. “I love the NBA and college football.”

She credits her dad for her love of sports. A former high school football player, her father would play football with her and was her basketball coach for years, she said.

Saucier graduated from Destrehan High School in 2008 and went on to attend SLU, graduating in 2012.

In college, Saucier had to quit playing sports after becoming sick.

“During track, I would do two jumps and then I would just collapse,” she said.

Saucier was later diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten or wheat allergy, and anemia.

During her senior year at SLU, Saucier worked as an intern with the Superbowl Host Committee, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, where she was responsible for recruiting and scheduling about 8,000 volunteers.

What she learned in that job — coordinating volunteers, preparing reports, completing daily tasks for a supervisor and learning how to work with the public — will help her in her new role, she said.

It was while working with the assistant director of athletics during a class at SLU that Saucier found her “dream job”: Football game-day operations.

“He taught me so much about game day operations,” Saucier said. “All of the tiny, tiny details that go into putting on the event that people don’t think about.”

Although she was named the Hammond Recreation Department youth coordinator July 1, Saucier is now juggling both that and the secretarial position until the center finds a replacement secretary.

She’s working on spreading the word about the programs soon to be offered, and is gearing up for Superhero Day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at the recreation center, 601 W. Coleman Ave.

Children can dress as their favorite superhero, and area firefighters and police officers will talk to them about safety and self defense.

“I just want the kids to have somewhere to go where they can have fun once a month and someplace educational to go to,” Saucier said.

For information on the Hammond Recreation Center’s youth programs, call Saucier at (985) 277-5903.