RAHWAY, NJ — Rahway Recreation Supervisor Anthony Diege Jr. has been named Employee of the Year by the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association. The announcement was made on March 7 at the NJRPA annual awards banquet in Atlantic City. Diege began his career with Rahway Recreation Center 15 years ago.
“My home base is Rahway Recreation Center,” Diege said in an email on March 30. “I’m stationed there five days a week planning, supervising and implementing youth and adult programs, leagues and events.”
Diege is a lifelong Rahway resident who once worked as a park counselor at Rahway Recreation Center. Three years ago, he was promoted to recreation supervisor.
“We have something for everyone,” he said in the email. “Yoga, basketball, spin class and we rent out our facility for more unique programs that I coordinate, like Professional Wrestling School.”
Deige says that no two days on the job are ever the same. He is always confronted with new challenges to tackle on a daily basis.
“I enjoy that I get to work with the community I grew up with,” he said. “No two days are ever the same. The unpredictability of the job is both a gift and a curse. It keeps the job refreshing but also challenging.”
The recreation center has changed a lot over the years since Diege began his career. He says that the number of kids he services has drastically declined.
“When I first started working here our parks program was thriving and we’d have over 100 kids in our basketball facility on any given day,” he told LocalSource in an email. “Those numbers have drastically declined for a number of reasons; mainly because each kid has so many recreation options including technology, therefore we have to constantly reinvent ourselves to keep the community engaged.”
However, the monthly special events have grown and Diege enjoys working with the kids.
“Our monthly special events have grown enormously to the point that I think the most important part of my job is making sure all the staffing and behind-the-scenes work is done correctly to ensure everything runs smoothly,” Diege said. “No matter how stressful life or work gets, being around kids having fun is contagious.”
The most important part of his job is communication, according to Diege.
“Communication is very important,” he said. “We have dozens of organizations, instructors and staff coming in and out the facility 14 hours per day. Detailed scheduling that gets communicated effectively with everyone is a necessity.”
This is the first time in his career that Diege has been officially recognized for all his work. He said he’s unoffically recognized by his beard on a daily basis.
“I’m unofficially recognized wherever I go as ‘the guy from the rec center with the beard that’s always doing something!”
The New Jersey Recreation and Park Association is a not-for-profit, statewide organization dedicated to “promoting parks and recreation” and “enhancing the professional development of its members.” The purpose of the awards program is to “honor and identify dedicated leaders, employees, and volunteers in the field of Parks and Recreation.”