Mike Griggs knew from a young age working in parks and recreation was going to be a part of his future.

Griggs, former director of the Columbia Parks & Recreation Department, spent most of his childhood playing sports and participating in community events at various parks in and around Columbia.

“It seems like I’ve been involved with parks and recreation my entire life,” Griggs said. “My dad coached us in various youth sports, we had family reunions in Cosmo Park, and our family participated in events such as Heritage Festival, Holiday Parade, and July 4th celebrations. Those are some of the fondest memories I have as a kid growing up in Columbia.”

Now the Deputy City Manager for Columbia, Griggs began working part-time for Parks & Recreation in high school. That led to his eventual decision to major in the field as a student at Mizzou, and a 39-year career in the Parks & Recreation industry.

Because of his dedication to the City of Columbia and the growth of parks and recreation in mid-Missouri, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Griggs as a member of the Class of 2022.

Griggs spent six years as a Sport Supervisor in Columbia before leaving his hometown to become the director of Sedalia’s Parks & Recreation Department, where he planned and developed the Clover Dell Soccer Park. That move was strategic and part of his bigger career picture.

“I knew that if I didn’t diversify my work experience, becoming a director would be difficult,” he said. “So, I landed in Sedalia as their director. While Columbia and Sedalia are two vastly different communities, the citizens all have similar recreational and facility desires. Whether it’s the Clover Dell Regional Park or the Antimi Sports Complex, both provide Sedalia and Columbia with high- quality recreational and competitive sports.”

With 39 years in the business, Griggs has seen a lot of changes. Cuts in local government funding and a change in sporting and recreational tastes have been two of the industry’s biggest challenges.

“Parks and recreation used to be seen as only a local, recreational outlet for citizens. Now we provide essential services, such as trails that connect people to where they live, work, shop, educate, and play,” Griggs said. “But as local governments face continued funding challenges, parks and recreation facilities and programs had to be adapted to become more financially self-sufficient. Developing high-quality facilities, such as the Gans Creek Cross Country Course and the Thomas E. Atkins Baseball Complex, provide great sport complexes for Columbians, but also generate significant economic impact through sports tourism.”

Facility improvements are another area in which Griggs has seen – and been a part of – incredible growth.

“When the Rainbow Softball Center opened in 1984, it was the premier sports complex in mid-America and hosted major national tournaments including the NAIA National Softball Championships,” he said.  “Since then, many other communities have seen the value of these premiere facilities and have constructed their own.  Now, when it comes to hosting major tournaments and events, it’s not just who has the best facility, but who can prepare the overall best bid in terms of sponsorship, participant/spectator activities, community support, and media relations.”

Perhaps no event has meant more to Griggs than the 2021 SEC Cross Country Championships.

“We hosted the SEC Cross Country Championship at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course,” Griggs said. “This meet hosted some of the world’s premier athletes, and it was extremely rewarding to hear their compliments about the course and their experience in Columbia.”

Several people have impacted Griggs across his career journey, including parks and recreation staff, the community and, of course, his family.

“The groundwork for the success of the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department lies with our staff, volunteers, City Council, and Columbia citizens that have been so generous with their support,” he said.  “I’ve had the tremendous support of my wife, Susan, and two sons, Chris and James. We’ve spent many evenings and weekends at youth sports tournaments, not just in Columbia, but all across the country.”

Griggs sees his induction into the Hall of Fame as a team award and honor.

“Being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame may be an individual recognition, but I happily share this wonderful honor with so many others,” he said. “This is truly like a championship team that gets inducted, as it’s not just about one person, but it is a team accomplishment. The overall culture created by our former and current City of Columbia staff members was instrumental to my success, allowing me to be honored with this outstanding recognition.