‘Time to change’

Trinca leaves Ridge parks district after 44 years

Retired PRPD Manager Mike Trinca relaxes at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center, named for his predecessor.

Retired PRPD Manager Mike Trinca relaxes at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center, named for his predecessor.

Photo by Evan Tuchinsky

More than Paradise:
The Paradise Recreation and Park District encompasses 169 square miles that cover Butte Creek Canyon, Magalia and Concow, along with Paradise.

Monday afternoon (July 3), with a spring in his step and a smile on his face, Mike Trinca casually strolled onto the grounds of Terry Ashe Recreation Center. Neither his energy nor emotion was unusual; as manager of the Paradise Recreation and Park District, he’d developed a reputation as a force of positive momentum. What made this moment unique was the circumstance.

For the first time in 44 years, Trinca arrived on a workday without a work affiliation.

On July 1, Trinca retired. When he got promoted from assistant manager in 1995, succeeding the man for whom the recreation center is named, he became just the fourth PRPD manager since the district’s founding, in 1948. Trinca’s successor is Dan Efseaff, previously the city parks and natural resources manager in Chico.

Why leave now?

“I’m 66 and I’ve been here my entire work life, so it’s nice to think I’ve got another few chapters in this life,” Trinca said. “I don’t plan on being idle. I just think it’s time to change.”

He said he doesn’t have “a plan of action” beyond taking about two months to “just chill for a while.” He and his wife, Gibby, plan to run the Chicago Marathon in October. They have a son and three grandchildren living in Tunisia, plus a daughter in Santa Monica. Trinca also enjoys hunting, hiking and diving.

“Mike is going to be missed,” PRPD board member Mary Bellefeuille said. “He’s just so passionate…. He made a footprint, but he understands that change is great.”

Indeed, Trinca cites change—adapting to new demands—as a benefit to having a new manager. (He praised Efseaff’s proficiency with computers, for instance.) Trinca sees a need for managers “a generation newer than I am” blending with experienced staff to better serve the current wave of kids, teens and young adults in parks and programs.

He cited the ice rink as an example. For the past few winters, PRPD has set up an outdoor skating venue at Terry Ashe, on the Skyway. It’s a seasonal offering, distinct to the district and popular, even if costly.

“The new generation is moving quickly—they change about as much as the computers do,” Trinca said. “The traditional-type settings are doing OK, but change does better.”

Trinca started with the district after graduating from Chico State in 1973. PRPD—where he’d served a couple of internships—offered a combination job as a lifeguard, playground leader and maintenance worker (i.e., cleaning toilets and picking up trash).

A year later, he started looking for other employment, but when his boss left, he got promoted to recreation supervisor in sports. He held that job for 19 years, overseeing a snow-skiing instruction program, the swimming pool, softball leagues, youth sports and special events. He was hitting the job market again when Ashe, a few years from retirement, promoted Trinca to assistant manager.

Trinca doesn’t expect a landmark named after him. Instead, he hopes people support his new campaign for PRPD to offer free swimming lessons to every 3-, 4- and 5-year-old in the district. The fundraising effort he’s championing is called “Don’t Sink … Swim with Trinc.”

For Julie Van Roekel, PRPD board chair, there could be no tribute more fitting. She learned to swim in district classes, and her children have followed her footsteps in the Tiny Tots activities program. She said her earliest memories of PRPD involve Mike and Gibby Trinca driving her to ski school.

At Trinca’s retirement party, Van Roekel met Ashe for the first time. She said she noticed “a magic in his eyes and a connection he felt” to what he’d helped build.

“I see the same thing in Mike now,” she continued. “He’s proud, and he continues to be attached to the district, parks and people.”