Most people would agree that having a job they feel good about and enjoy is a blessing.
City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department director Brandon Maberry falls into that category.
“You meet a lot of really good people,” Maberry said, “and I go to work each day feeling like I’m doing something good for the planet and for other people.”
Maberry, 24, is a native of Trenton (in northern Missouri) and a graduate of Trenton High School. He attended North Central Missouri College in Trenton before transferring to the University of Missouri and earning a degree in parks and recreation and sport, with an emphasis on recreation administration.
Maberry and his wife, Kylee, have a 1-year-old boy, Theodore. He began duties as Houston’s park-and-rec leader on March 7. Prior to that, he worked in as an activities director for Columbia-based Colony Pointe Senior Living.
“For a community this size, there are some of the nicest parks and more assets available to the residents than you might expect,” Maberry said.
“And there are a lot of people in this community who are passionate about parks and recreation. The only issue is, there hasn’t been a solid structural plan, as far as this is what we’re responsible for, this is what we need to be doing and this is how many hours it’s going to take and how many people will be needed.
“That’s something I’m in the process of doing for next year.”
Maberry said the funding from the sales tax approved by voters a couple of years ago is a huge benefit to the department.
“That’s one of the main reasons I came here,” he said. “It really gives us the ability to improve and maintain the facilities to the way they should be.”
Maberry at first was pursuing a political science major in college. But while working as an intern in a senatorial campaign, he came to a realization.
“I didn’t enjoy that at all,” Maberry said. “I knew I liked being outside and furthering recreation for everybody, so I decided to switch to parks and recreation. I’ve always wanted to work somewhere in the public sector as well, and this job kind of gives me the best of both worlds.”
Interaction with the public is a big draw to Maberry, but he also finds his current position fits his philosophical nature.
“I’m big on doing things that I believe are good for society and not detrimental,” he said. “I feel like that’s how a lot of businesses operate these days and I didn’t want to be a part of that.”
Coordinating a busy sports season – with lots of teams and individuals involved – presents a challenge that Maberry meets with an organizational approach.
“I’m a very detail-oriented person,” he said, “and I make sure to have very complete schedules for myself and everyone else. There is a lot of texting and calling, and a lot of simply having it in writing.
“If I don’t have something in writing, I feel like I’ve forgotten it and it’s going to blow past me.”
Recent improvements and developments in the department include upgrading the fencing at the city tennis courts at Westside Park and paving of the parking lot at Rutherford Park. Maberry expects construction to resume soon on a slab at the southwest corner of the Westside Park that will combine a volleyball court and two pickleball courts.
“I have extremely high hopes for the pickleball,” he said. “I think it will catch on lot more than people realize.”
In addition to Emmett Kelly Park, Rutherford Park and Westside Park, Houston’s park-and-rec department also oversees Houston Municipal Golf Course, as well as several baseball and softball diamonds and multiple youth soccer fields. Development is under way at a recently donated parcel on West Highway 17 that will become Bridges Park, and Maberry said the tennis courts will likely be resurfaced next year.
While he’s still new to the job, Maberry is familiar with the overall perception of Houston’s park-and-rec situation.
“I’ve heard some negative feedback from people about how it’s been in the past,” he said, “and that’s only because they want to see it run as well as it can be.”
Maberry said he’s received a great deal of assistance since he arrived in Houston, both occupationally and personally.
I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to a lot of people who have helped me in a lot of ways since I got here,” he said.
Maberry can be reached by phone at 417-967-3348 and by email at email@example.com.