The Mountain Times

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Shelley Lutz and the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center receive prestigious Brungardt Awards

CLARENDON-Shelley Lutz, a resident of Clarendon, received the coveted Theresa S, Brungardt "Friend" Award at the recent Vermont Governor's Conference on Recreation at Lake Morey Resort. This conference, hosted by the Vermont Recreation and Parks Association, was the 69th Annual event.

Lutz was recognized for her long-term commitment to health and fitness in Rutland County. She has been an active member of the Killington Pico Cycling Club (KPCC) since 1993 where she has taken on numerous responsibilities such as the newsletter, treasurer, securing benefits for members and promoting community involvement with the Rutland Recreation & Kiwanis Bike Rodeo. KPCC members fix bikes, fit helmets and help with the skills course for this annual event. Lutz has taken the time to build the skills of new riders and many members of the KPCC are still involved due to her dedication to the organization.

Lutz has volunteered with the Catamount Trail Association for over 15 years as a leader and trail builder. She helped with the transformation of Pine Hill Park. She, along with Tim Vile and Michael Smith started a 501 c(3) Friends group called Pine Hill Partnership, that maintains the Pine Hill Park trails. The Partnership has also secured permission from landowners to connect Pine Hill Park with the town of Proctor through single-track trails.

Lutz has also been one of the lead coaches for the Rutland Recreation youth mountain bike club since it started in 2010. As the beginner coach she blends fun with learning new skills and is building lifetime cyclists. She also developed the successful Rutland Recreation women's mountain bike clinics in 2011 which continued in 2012. She is now an assistant coach with the RRD High School mountain bike team. Shelley was inducted into the Castleton College Athletic Hall of Fame recognizing her athletic achievements while a student at Castleton in the 1970's. She has continued to make wellness a priority for herself and has brought that to our community through her selfless dedication to trails and the youth of the area.

RUTLAND-Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center received the coveted Theresa S. Brungardt "Community" Award. Steve and Sherry Lulek, owners of GMRCC, were honored for their dedication in building a healthy community. The Lulek's will celebrate ten years of business in March 2013.

Steve and Sherry started a high school rock-climbing league that has grown to include a middle school league. The climbers are able to work off membership fees through volunteering if needed. Many climbers volunteer as they are looking for any excuse to spend more time at the "rock gym." The center has been working with Rutland Recreation & Parks Department since 2005 offering rock climbing classes to youth. The lessons promote a long-term commitment to health along with building rock climbing skills. The program launched a need for an outlet for competitive youth climbers.

The Extreme team was borne and has climbers realizing success both regionally and nationally. Sam Hayden, a high school freshman from Pittsfield, who started with the Rutland Recreation program is now a sponsored climber and has placed nationally for several years. GMRCC has also worked with alternative schools, colleges, corporations and the military.

Theresa S. Brungardt was a pioneer and outstanding leader of parks and recreation in Vermont.  She began her career in 1917 when she joined the staff of the National Recreation Association during World War 1.  She was Vermont's first state Director of Recreation, having been appointed by Governor Wills in 1943.  She traveled tirelessly throughout Vermont to help communities with their recreation programs.  Many of the community recreation departments today could trace their origins back to technical assistance and inspiration provided by Mrs. Brungardt.  She was nationally recognized for her expertise and in 1952 was elected the first female president of the American Recreation Society. Her involvement continued after her retirement in 1964 when she was an active member of the Citizens Board Member Branch of NRPA.  She was inducted into the NRPA Hall of Fame in 1997.

In 1975, the Vermont Recreation and Park Association, in cooperation with the Recreation Section of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, established the Theresa S. Brungardt Award - to encourage the improvement of recreation and park services in Vermont by recognizing outstanding recreation and park professionals, lay members, and organizations. The awards are presented to a professional, friend, and organization every year at the Vermont Governor's Conference.