Brian Bascue has committed wholeheartedly to local athletics. Not only is he involved in providing such opportunities through his role as Superintendent of the Newton Recreation Commission, but he also oversees many sporting events and provides a fair competitive environment for all through his work as an official — serving with the Kansas State High School Activities Association for 30 years now.
For just a shade over three decades, Bascue has been working in the field of recreation — the last 16 of those in Newton. Handling the day-to-day operations of the NRC and "making sure it runs smoothly" make up the bulk of Bascue's job, which he noted boils down to managing/operating its facilities and providing recreational opportunities for the Newton community. He was exposed to that type of work while growing up in Garden City, taking a summer job with the local rec commission, and was immediately hooked.
"They were able to put me to work working on the grounds crews and then eventually in different programming as I got into college," Bascue said. "I enjoyed that work, so I went to school at Kansas State (University) to get my degree."
While Bascue is glad to see the opportunities offered by the NRC continue to grow — now including a lot of programming targeting senior citizens and healthy living — the bulk of the work still centers around the youth sports leagues.
Personally, that is something Bascue also had a lot of exposure to while growing up — and it is what drives him to make the sports programs in Newton so inclusive. Knowing how many low-income families are in the community, and being familiar with that situation, he makes sure there are scholarships available to allow anyone interested to participate. Both Bascue's athletic (playing college baseball at KSU) and professional careers were launched through the chances he was given by his local rec commission, so he is very attuned to such needs and invested in paying forward some of the opportunities he was given as a child.
"I'm always aware and I know that there are always needs for people out there and try to keep them involved," Bascue said. "I grew up in a large family where my parents couldn't afford for us to participate in recreational opportunities, so with that, I know how challenging it is for some families to be able to afford because I came from that background. If it wasn't for the rec commission back in Garden City, I'm not sure that I would've been able to participate or do things."
Along with latching on to work in recreation at a young age, Bascue similarly got his first experiences officiating during his formative years in Garden City. It started with umpiring for rec league baseball games in the summer, but once he was out of college he gradually kept moving up the chain to middle school, high school and even collegiate competition.
Over the years, work as an official has taken Bascue all over the state, especially when he was officiating while working for rec commissions in Holcomb and Garden City.
"I've been all over the state reffing, especially when I was out in western Kansas. I went from, basically, border to border from the southern border to the northern border," Bascue said. "I went everywhere from Elkhart, which is in the very southwest corner, to Goodland and Colby and up in that area."
Keeping up work as an official has stemmed partly from the benefits of staying active, as well as the camaraderie that comes along with being part of an officiating crew, Bascue admitted. He noted it has been a bonus to call some big games — a handful of state championships in basketball, baseball and volleyball — as well as having the opportunity to call some games with his son.
Numbers have dwindled in recent years, which has caused some difficulties, but Bascue remains committed.
"It's almost like we have to do more than what we should be doing because there's such a need out there, especially football," Bascue said.
Participation is something Bascue is always happy to see more of, whether in the programs offered by the NRC or in recruiting more KSHSAA officials. In terms of the latter, it can even start at the rec level, as it did for Bascue. He encourages those interested to simply learn the sport and, if they take that leap, to enjoy being a part of it.