Youngest-ever member take seat on Recreation Committee

Tianna Tomasi, 16, will bring teens’ perspective

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

Tianna Tomasi admits to being nervous when the Williston Selectboard interviewed her she interviewed last month for one of the openings on the town’s Recreation Committee. Board members were fanned out before her at a grand-looking table, while she sat alone before them, answering their questions. A television camera was poised nearby.

“It was so formal,” she said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking.”

However, Tomasi earned the board’s approval and an appointment to the Recreation Committee, becoming the youngest member of the town’s numerous boards and committees. Tomasi, 16, said she sees her new position as an opportunity to repay her hometown.

“I’ve grown up in Williston,” said Tomasi, whose first committee meeting will take place next month. “I’ve lived here since I was 3-1/2 years old, and I thought this was the least I could do to give back to the community that has done so much for me. And I’ve just had a wonderful time in the recreation (department) sports.”

Tomasi has participated in a number of municipal recreational offerings and has also served as a youth basketball and soccer coach. In addition, Tomasi is one of 23 adopted siblings in her family, ranging in age from six to 44. Many of them are veterans of the town’s municipal recreation programs.

For instance, Tomasi first started playing organized sports when joined a tee ball team when she was 6 years old. She had three siblings in the league with her that summer.

“I figured having a Tomasi in general on the committee would be helpful,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan, who urged Tomasi to apply for the committee opening.

However, Finnegan asked Tomasi to apply for more than just her family affiliations. He said Tomasi has shown abundant enthusiasm for town recreational activities, as well as a maturity that indicates she would hold her own on a committee filled with older members.

Finnegan points to Tomasi’s experience coaching a youth basketball team as an example.

“She’s got great experience working as a basketball coach,” Finnegan said. “She approached me about coaching and she pretty much ran her own team. She showed a lot of maturity and did a great job.”

Tomasi said she has reveled in the coaching experience.

“It was so rewarding to me,” said Tomasi, who was home-schooled this past academic year but hopes to join the junior class at Champlain Valley Union High School in the fall. “It is such a good feeling to be able to help teach a little kid how to shoot a soccer ball.”

Finnegan said teenagers represent a demographic that has not been directly represented on the Recreation Committee. He said he hopes Tomasi can contribute a voice for teens, similar to the work committee member Caroline Ford has been doing for Williston’s seniors.

“I thought it was incredibly important to have a teen representative,” Finnegan said. “I thought we needed to have somebody who represented that population. We’ve got a lot going on with the Student Lounge and other ideas, and I think we need somebody to start mobilizing teens.”

Tomasi told the Selectboard in her application letter that she would like to represent her age group on the committee and “make things happen for the youth of our town.”

Tomasi said she will not join the committee with big plans for the town’s recreation offerings, though she would like to see the basketball open-night program at Allen Brook extended to the summer to give kids something to do during vacation evenings.

“I don’t have huge ideas,” Tomasi said. “But once I’ve been on the board and see what’s going on, I will give my opinion.”