Battig retiring after long career with Wooster Parks & Rec

Battig retiring after long career with Wooster Parks & Rec

After a long career with the City of Wooster, primarily in the area of parks and recreation, Jeff Battig is retiring at the end of December.


Jeff Battig has dedicated his multi-decade career to supporting parks and recreation in Wooster. Going back to his childhood, his entire life within and outside of his job has revolved around sports and recreation.

Battig is now set to retire from his job as recreation manager with the city at the end of December.

“Sports have always been a huge part of my life,” said Battig, a 1978 graduate of Wooster High. “When I was young, I did football, track, baseball. Even as early as fourth grade, I got into biking. By age 13 I had my first good bike. By high school I also got into cross county and downhill skiing.”

Battig’s career started with four years in the Army in aviation with a focus on maintenance of helicopters. But as soon as Battig returned to his hometown, he jumped back into his passion of recreation as the Wooster YMCA youth director.

After a stint with the YMCA, Battig went back to work for the City of Wooster, where he also had worked part-time while in high school. His new role was recreation coordinator, overseeing all three aquatic facilities, the soccer and volleyball programs, and various other community programs. His job was busy, at times hiring and overseeing as many as 45 seasonal staff for the pools.

About 10 years ago, Battig was promoted to recreation manager. A couple of his biggest successes include launching the Wayne Trails Committee and revamping the Wooster soccer program.

The Wayne Trails Committee was established by Battig and Mayor Bob Breneman in 2016 under the purview of the City of Wooster. The purpose of the committee is creating new bike trails, and Battig said the goals include bike trail connections across Wayne County. Committee accomplishments in the past five years include all the new bike trails around Wooster and the signed route to Fredericksburg.

The committee also hosted a fundraiser that was a ride to Fredericksburg and resulted in enough donations that they were able to open a fund at the Wayne County Community Foundation. The existing committee is a group of about 20 members who continue to meet every other month.

Current Wayne Trails Committee co-chair Bill Buckwalter has worked with Battig many times over the years.

“I had the privilege of serving with Jeff for a number of different events and committees,” said Buckwalter, a co-owner of Ride On in Wooster. “Jeff’s leadership, vision and ‘get it done’ mentality will be sorely missed as he heads into retirement. He’s been a strong supporter of projects and events that have benefited Wooster. No detail was overlooked under his guidance.”

Battig’s other major area of success was around the soccer program in Wooster with the creation of 17 acres of soccer fields at Oldman and Burbank roads, a monumental task that took from the mid-1990s to 2010 to be completed.

“When I started, our games were all over the city,” Battig said. “There were games at Schaeffler, one in a farmer’s field and the rest scattered about the city. Then myself and the president of the Wooster Soccer Association said we needed a set location. We started expanding the soccer complex with the city, WSA and county.”

Battig’s dedication has been appreciated by the City of Wooster.

“Jeff has been a critical member of the management team for the last nine years and a great Wooster team member for his entire career. He has always brought a high level of energy and professionalism to the position and the department,” city administrator Joel Montgomery said. “He was always very dedicated to exploring new partnerships and ways to be more efficient while still providing the best recreation services possible to the community. I have greatly enjoyed working with Jeff and wish him the best in his retirement.”

Battig also somehow found time to work for six years as the assistant girls high school soccer coach at Wooster High and also served for 10 years as a soccer referee.

“There were countless soccer meetings when I was president for three years of the Wooster Soccer Association,” said Mitch Sleek, a current member of the Wooster Parks and Recreation Commission, serving alongside Battig. “I don’t think a month has passed for the past 18-plus years that Jeff and I haven’t worked on something together. He has always kept things fun and kept us organized on everything I’ve worked on with him.”

Looking forward, Battig plans to spend his retirement in his dad’s woodshop and to do more biking and kayaking. He already has several trips planned with his wife.

Battig will be replaced by Ashley Hershberger, also a longtime employee of the department.

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