Parks and Recreation

Navy Cruisers to perform Saturday at Veterans Park

By Gabby Salazar, Tourism Events Supervisor

With Texas A&M being one of only six senior military colleges in the country, College Station has always been proud to honor those who serve our country. We prominently display our appreciation for the military in local museums and memorials, especially Veterans Park & Athletic Complex.

That makes Veterans Park the ideal venue for Saturday’s free concert by the United States Navy Band Cruisers, the Navy’s premier contemporary entertainment ensemble. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Before the show, guests can take pictures with military and first-response vehicles, tour the Veterans Memorial, enjoy kids’ activities, and more. (more…)

Youth sports programs offer volunteer opportunities

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

Without dedicated volunteer coaches, our local youth recreation programs couldn’t grow and prosper. Coaches teach fundamentals and help kids develop skills while instilling the time-tested value of hard work, practice, sportsmanship, and teamwork.

College Station Parks & Recreation offers more than 20 youth sports programs – with over 1,200 participants – throughout the year. If you’ve ever considered coaching, we provide opportunities for you to encourage, guide and train young athletes in flag football, basketball and girls volleyball. (more…)

Promoting safety with the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

By Bridget Russell, Interim Aquatics Supervisor

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of setting a world record, here’s your chance.

On Thursday, June 22, you are invited to join College Station Aquatics at Adamson Lagoon for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. The free 50-minute lesson begins at 8 a.m. and will cover safe-swim topics for all ages and experience levels. Preregistration is not required.

Since the World Waterpark Association introduced the event in 2010, the City of College Station has helped the organization set world records while promoting water safety and raising awareness about the importance of learning to swim. The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson brings together tens of thousands of individuals around the world to participate in the same lesson in a 24-hour period.

Last year, more than 40,000 kids and adults participated in WLSL events in 24 countries, including 50 at Adamson Lagoon. Aquatic facilities from Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston to schools in India taught the lesson with one message in mind — swimming lessons save lives.

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is among the top five causes of death for people from 1-14 years of age. Research shows the risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent if children participate in formal swimming lessons between ages 1-4.

That means drowning is preventable, and swimming is a vital life-saving skill.

In addition to lessons, we offer these tips to keep your kids safe at the pool this summer:

  • Never leave children unattended. Parents are the first line of defense in keeping kids safe in the water. If your child is in the water, you should be, too.
  • Follow posted safety rules and warnings. Teach kids that being safe in and around the water is a personal responsibility — yours and theirs.
  • Teach your children to always swim with a buddy and never alone or in unsupervised places.
  • If you or a family member is a weak or non-swimmer, wear a life vest. College Station pools provide them at no cost.
  • Keep toddlers in shallow play areas.
  • Don’t use air-filled swimming aids such as water wings in place of life jackets. These items provide a sense of false security and may increase the risk of drowning. Swimming aids and other inflatables aren’t allowed in College Station pools.

For information about swim lessons, visit


About the Blogger

Interim Aquatics Supervisor Bridget Russell has served as pool manager for the City of College Station every summer since 2012 and is a certified lifeguard instructor. She also teaches in the Bryan Independent School District. A native of Torrance, Calif., Bridget earned master’s (2012) and bachelor’s (2011) degrees in sport management from Texas A&M.


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Podcast: Heart of local aquatics moves on after 30 years

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

This edition of the podcast is one where our guest is being interviewed for the very first time — but we’re actually saying goodbye.

Vera Solis served as College Station’s pools supervisor for 30 years. In this interview — recorded on her next to last day with the city — Vera talked about how she approached the profession, her legacy, where College Station could use another pool, and what her next adventure is all about.

Run time: 23:00

  • 00:00 – Opening comments.
  • 00:40 – Her start with College Station and in the aquatics industry.
  • 02:26 – Water activities were part of her own childhood.
  • 03:40 – What College Station Aquatics looked like in the mid-1980s.
  • 05:40 – How did you set out to change things?
  • 08:20 – Any changes in how you do what you do?
  • 09:50 – Will we always have public pools?
  • 12:20 – About the safety of College Station pools.
  • 14:00 – Proudest moments from the past 30 years.
  • 16:00 – Other highlights.
  • 16:50 – What did you NOT accomplish that you hope the next person does? (spoiler: establish another pool…)
  • 17:50 – What else would be nice? (yet another spoiler: water park)
  • 19:35 – What’s your legacy?
  • 20:15 – You’re now going to do what?
  • 21:30 – Final thoughts.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear to the audio file from your system.


Podcast Archive

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his eighth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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New Olympic sport has popular local venue

By Hallie Kutch, Marketing Staff Assistant

Skateboarding has been among the world’s fastest-growing recreational sports for much of the last decade. In fact, skateboarding has become so prominent that it will become an Olympic sport in 2020.

Live video feeds and instant upload technology have helped fuel the increased interest in skateboarding and other extreme sports. The thrilling action provides recreation, entertainment, and exercise and appeals to a melting pot of ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Consequently, College Station’s challenging G. Hysmith Skate Park has become a popular venue for local skateboarders of all skill levels. Located on the eastern edge of Brian Bachmann Community Park, the lighted skate facility features a covered spectator area, a large pro-style flow bowl, a pool-type bowl, and a long, linear street course that includes hundreds of feet of varying terrain and scalable elements.

Garrett Hysmith was an energetic, ambitious, College Station middle schooler who was passionate about skateboarding. In 2005, the 13-year-old passed away after a courageous nine-year battle with cancer.

Garrett’s closest friends responded with Operation Garrett to convince the College Station City Council to include a skate park as part of the 2008 bond election. Voters overwhelming approved the $920,000 park, which opened in 2011. Local skaters even provided input on the layout and design.

The park was designed by Bleyl & Associates of Bryan in conjunction with Grindline, Inc., a specialty design firm in Seattle, Wash. Construction was performed by JaCody, Inc. of College Station in association with SPA Skateparks of Austin.

Hysmith Skate Park is an ideal venue for skateboarders to hone their skills and enjoy their sport safely. Share your skills on wheels with us on social media (#CSTXparks).

College Station may even be the starting point for a future Olympian.

312d2ecAbout the Author

Hallie Kutch is in her second year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.

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Veterans Park complex rated as top 10 sports venue

By J.D. Wood, Tourism Manager  

Athletes, coaches, and spectators have long considered College Station’s Veterans Park & Athletic Complex to be a premier venue for local, regional and national tournaments.

They aren’t alone.

SportsEvents, a prestigious trade magazine in the sports tourism industry, wholeheartedly agrees.

The publication has named Veterans Park as one of the top 10 multi-use facilities in the country for exceeding expectations and offering a memorable experience. The rankings will appear in the magazine’s June issue.

“Sports events planners find multi-use sports facilities to be a top choice for their events,” SportsEvents Managing Editor Sherri Middleton said. “Multi-use complexes and facilities not only provide a range of fields and courts to host a variety of sports, but many facilities also take it a step further by offering everything a planner could need from a friendly and accommodating staff to upgraded state-of-the-art amenities and more.”

The top 10 facilities (in alphabetical order by location):

  • Blaine, Minn. – National Sports Center
  • College Station, Texas – Veterans Park & Athletic Complex
  • Frederica, Del. – DE Turf Sports Complex
  • Gatlinburg, Tenn. – Rocky Top Sports World
  • Little River, S.C. – North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex
  • Manheim, Pa. – Spooky Nook Sports
  • Mansfield, Texas – Fieldhouse USA Mansfield
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C. – Myrtle Beach Sports Center
  • Westfield, – Grand Park Sports Campus
  • Wichita, Kan. – Wichita Sports Forum

None of this happened by chance.

The fact that our peers and event participants selected Veterans Park & Athletic Complex proves we have established a winning formula that will continue to pay dividends well beyond the hundreds of events we’ve hosted in recent years.

This year alone, we’ve scheduled 30 events – including U.S. Quidditch and USA Archery – that are expected to attract some 35,000 participants. That number doesn’t even include the family members and friends who will come along to watch.

The level of service our parks employees provide, along with the quality of maintenance by our parks and recreation staff, helps set College Station and Veterans Park & Athletic Complex apart. Our success is also a direct result of the strong partnerships we’ve developed throughout our community.

While we’re proud of the high national ranking, we’re far from content.

Sports tourism is a highly competitive industry, and we continually work to enhance the quality of our services. With plans to add two more synthetic fields with lights – giving us 13 multi-purpose rectangle fields and five softball fields – we’ll be able to attract more and larger events in the future.


About the Blogger

J.D. Wood has been the City of College Station’s tourism manager since 2014 after serving as lead athletic supervisor for a year. His extensive experience in sports and tourism includes stints with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau and Texas A&M Athletics. A native of Onalaska, J.D. earned his bachelor’s (2009) and master’s (2010) degrees in sports management from Texas A&M.


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