Parks and Recreation

Hospitality, venues drive thriving sports tourism industry

By Katie Kwiatkowski, Tourism Events Supervisor

People around the country recognize College Station as a special place filled with friendly, hospitable people and top-notch sports facilities. Those factors are the cornerstones as we attract well-attended, high-caliber events that substantially impact on our local economy.

College Station has become such a desired destination for sports tournaments that we see many events return year after year. In 2019, events we hosted attracted about 27,000 participants and recorded an overall attendance of more than 67,000.

We’ll host multiple events in the spring, including football, soccer, and softball. The frequent rain we experience each spring makes us appreciate the four synthetic multi-purpose fields at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex. Thanks to that worthy investment, we can accommodate sizable events even when bad weather rolls in.

Summertime is always our busiest sports tourism season. This year, we’ll host our most prominent football events in June with the Texas State Championships and Southwest Regional Showcase, Adidas Texas State 7v7 Championships, and PrimeTime Sports 7v7 Tournament of Champions. Softball and soccer tournaments will follow as we move into July and August.

In the fall, we’ll host bocce, softball, and soccer tournaments — most of which are recurring events — before we wrap up the year with the 10th Annual BCS Marathon.

Here’s a look at our complete list of tourism events for 2020:

2020 Sports Tourism Schedule

Jan. 18-19 Brazos Valley Elite Sports Group
Jan. 25-26 Brazos Valley Cavalry Tournament
Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 Soccer Youth All-American Series
Feb. 9 ODP Pool Training
Feb. 15-16 Premier Soccer Spring Cup
Feb. 20-22 NFCA Texas Leadoff Classic
Feb. 29 – March 1 Aggie Classic – NTFCA
March 14-15 USSSA “What’s Your Legacy?” (Aggieland Classic)
March 26-29 SPA Salute to Veterans NIT Tournament
April 25-26 5 Tool Spring Battle Tournament
May 1-3 USSSA Budweiser Invitational
May 16-17 US Club Cup
May 23-25 STYSA State Cup
June 6-7 Texas Youth 7v7 State Championships
June 12-14/19-21 Texas State Championships and Southwest Regional Showcase
June 25-27 Adidas State 7v7 Championships
June 27-28 Primetime Sports 7v7 Tournament of Champions
July 9-12 Aggieland Classic SSUSA
Aug. 29-30 Aggieland Friendship Cup
Sept. 25-27 College Station Senior Games
Oct. 1-3 Special Olympics Fall Classic
Oct. 16-18 USSSA Budweiser Invitational
Dec. 5-6 Southampton Cup – Texas
Dec. 11-13 ODP: South Texas Regional Tournament
Dec. 12-13 BCS Marathon

With your valuable support, we can continue to attract significant events such as these to our growing community to fill our hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. When that happens, our entire community benefits.


About the Blogger

Tourism Events Supervisor Katie Kwiatkowski joined the Parks and Recreation Department last summer. She previously served as sports services manager at BCS Sports + Events. A native of Brenham, Katie earned a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from Texas A&M in 2016.


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LRC honors King with lively January events

By Cheletia Johnson, Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor

As we celebrate MLK Day on Jan. 20, let us remember his selfless acts of serving everyone. Giving your time to help others is a deed from the heart that delights the soul.

The City of College Station has many opportunities for you to share your gifts and talents by serving on a community board, coaching youth basketball, or volunteering at the Lincoln Recreation. It takes just a little effort and compassion with a big scoop of kindness to make a positive impact.

Join us at the Lincoln Recreation Center as we embark on another year of commemorating King’s life and legacy with these activities:

Wednesdays in January

Community Bible Study (Ages 14+), 6:30-8 p.m.

Local pastors lead Bible studies about peace, love, and unity.

  • 8: “Sustain Hope,” Pastor A. C. Clark, III
  • 15: “Love Your Enemies,” Pastor Sam Hill
  • 22: “Work for Equality & Justice,” Pastor Eleanor Colvin & Donna Renfro
  • 29: “Build the Beloved Community,” Pastor Dan DeLeon

Friday, Jan. 17

Keep the Dream Alive Celebration, 6-9 p.m.

Join us for an evening of praise honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Hear words of empowerment from Pastor Marie Nutall of Bryan’s New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, along with uplifting spirituals by the Minds Of Champions youth choir. We’ll also recognize many who have made a significant impact on our community.

K&J Southern Cuisine will serve dinner for $10 per plate. The menu includes smothered chicken or meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes, peach cobbler, and a roll.

Thursday, Jan. 23

Career and Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Dress to impress and bring your resume to connect with local employers. We offer the fair in partnership with Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley.

Thursday, Jan. 30

Teen Talk (Ages 11-15), 5:30-7:30 p.m.

We designed the open forum to give teens a safe, judgment-free zone to discuss the issues and topics relevant to them. The goal is to bridge generational gaps, encourage open communication, and foster an environment where we are more understanding of others.

Remember: dreams don’t work unless you do! One person can’t do everything, but we can all do something.

For more information about programs at the Lincoln Recreation Center, call 979-764-3779.


15056423_10211457886507712_8938533943363720232_nAbout the Blogger

Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor Cheletia Johnson is a College Station native who grew up near the LRC. She has worked with the City of College Station for more than 25 years. Cheletia earned a bachelor’s degree in community health from Texas A&M and a master’s in counseling from Prairie View A&M.


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Christmas in the Park delights community again

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

As Santa heads back to the North Pole to prepare for his Christmas Eve deliveries, the Parks and Recreation staff is cleaning up, repairing lights and picking up remnants of the good times left behind from this year’s Christmas in the Park events.

Over the last two weekends, we enjoyed watching families revel under the giant Christmas tree and delight in the festive light displays and activities. Everyone seemed to have a positive response to Christmas in the Park, and the shuttles from Post Oak Mall made the short trip to Stephen C. Beachy Park seamless.

More than 18,125 guests savored the holiday sights and sounds during the four days of celebration.

Since it began in 1984, the event has evolved from a small light display into a beloved community tradition. We’ve added a few activities — a petting zoo, inflatables, shuttle, and two real snow slides — but it essentially remains the same program at heart. We strive to handcraft our light displays with the same loving care and spirit of the great Christmas in the Park teams of the past.

Here’s a glimpse at the impressive numbers from the event days (Dec. 6-7, 13-14):

  • 12,000 cups of hot cocoa served.
  • 24,000 Christmas cookies devoured.
  • 14,462 wristbands given away.
  • 9,060 people rode the shuttle.
  • 120,000 pounds of ice used for snow slides.
  • 12,500 candy canes handed out by Santa.
  • 168 volunteers assisted, including 28 from Bryan Collegiate High School.
  • 1 million+ Christmas lights displayed.

While the organized activities are finished for this year, our beautiful lights will be displayed from 6-11 p.m. each night through Jan. 2. We offer a special thanks to our sponsors: Britt Rice Electric, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and H-E-B.

We’d love to hear what you think about this year’s event. Just leave your comment on this blog or the city’s Facebook page.

Merry Christmas!


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


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Winter youth hoops focus on fun, fundamentals

By Samantha Holman, Event Specialist

When winter arrives, many parents struggle to find ways to keep their children active. The College Station Parks and Recreation Department’s Winter Youth Basketball leagues are a fantastic outlet for your kids’ boundless energy.

The leagues help develop young athletes mentally, athletically, and socially. The focus is on providing a fun, relaxed atmosphere while teaching the game’s fundamentals.

We offer four age divisions, which are determined by the player’s age as of Jan. 1: 6-7 Coed (6-7 years), 10U Boys/Girls (8-10 years), 12U Boys/Girls (10-12 years), 14U Coed (12-14 years).

Registration ends Dec. 13, and the league runs from Jan. 13-March 5. You can register online or by calling 979-764-3486 or stopping by our Central Park office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road. The cost is $70 per participant, which includes a team jersey.

Players can register for Monday/Wednesday/Saturday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday practices. Games are played on weeknights between 6-9 p.m. and Saturday practices are between 9 a.m.-4 p.m.  Practices and games are at College Station Independent School District gyms and the Lincoln Recreation Center. Gym locations vary depending on age and availability, and participants can’t request a specific location.

The format of the league is an eight-game, round-robin schedule. Each player accumulates at least two quarters of playing time for each game in which they participate.

Volunteer Coaches Needed

Parents are their kids’ greatest fans, and we encourage you to get involved as a volunteer coach. Without dedicated volunteers, our programs can’t grow and prosper. We need coaches for every age division. No experience is required, and we provide you with the help and resources you need for a fun and successful season.

To apply as a volunteer coach, go to and fill out the form. Volunteers must complete a background check.

Bright lights of Christmas in the Park start Nov. 28

By Kelly Kelbly, Parks & Recreation Assistant Director

If you’re like me, you struggle with putting out Christmas decorations when your last guest leaves at Thanksgiving.

That’s not the case with the bright and colorful lights that go up for the city’s annual Christmas at the Park.

For more than 30 years, Parks and Recreation crews have spent 6-8 weeks each fall installing the lights and hand-crafted panels at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park. That means the effort begins in early October, long before you even thaw your Thanksgiving turkey.

The crews diligently work around fall leagues and events to transition the park into a lighted winter wonderland.  They toil in the heat, cold, rain — and sometimes ice — to ensure a radiant and festive glow when we flip the switch on Thanksgiving Day.

The centerpiece is the Tower of Power, a 90-foot tall Christmas Tree adorned with 14,000 shimmering lights. Thanks to a generous donation by the Britt Rice family, the popular ritual of spinning beneath the giant tree continues.

We also encourage you to take your family’s traditional drive through the 60 strands of lights that frame Santa’s Lane. The only nights that won’t be available are on Christmas in the Park event weekends Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14. We’ll close the drive-thru at 7 a.m. on event days to keep everyone safe as we set-up for visits with Santa, hayrides, and of course, hot chocolate and cookies.

Shuttles will run from 5-10 p.m. from the Post Oak Mall parking lot (JC Penny side) to the park. Handicap parking will be at the park’s softball complex, which is accessible from State Highway 6.

You can still walk through the 36 snowflakes in Snowflake Forest, take pictures in front of the 36-foot lighted paddleboat, and wander along the tunnel on the back trail.

For many local families, Christmas in the Park has become a holiday institution. The Parks & Recreation family invites you to continue the tradition and create new and lasting memories.


About the Blogger

Assistant Director Kelly Kelbly is in her 18th year with the College Station Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Gilmer, Kelly is a 1998 graduate of Texas A&M.


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Jingle Bell Fun Run celebrates 30th year on Dec. 8

By Gene Ballew, Athletics & Tourism Manager

The Jingle Bell Fun Run is a fun run in its truest sense. The two-mile race isn’t timed and is intended to be a fun way to kick off the annual B-CS Christmas Parade.

Sunday, Dec. 8 marks the 30th anniversary of the Jingle Bell Fun Run and is an ideal opportunity to mark “competing in a fun run” off your bucket list. The event starts at 2:15 p.m., followed by the parade at 3 p.m.

The run starts at the corner of University Drive and South College Avenue and ends at the corner of Texas and Elm Avenue. We’ll have a shuttle waiting for you at the end of the route and, knowing how much dogs enjoy a brisk jaunt, they’re welcome, too.

To commemorate the run’s anniversary, we’ll feature more swag to complement your jingle bells and t-shirt so you can run (or walk) down Texas Avenue in style. The entry fee is only $15 and includes a shirt if you register by Nov. 17. The fee is $20 during the Nov. 18-24 late registration period, but you aren’t guaranteed a shirt.

Packet pick-up is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Dec. 4 and from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Beachy Central Park Office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road. For more information, contact us at 979-764-3486 or

Join us as we celebrate 30 years of the fabulous Jingle Bell Fun Run. See you at the finish line!


About the Blogger

Gene Ballew has been with the Parks and Recreation Department for 12 years and is in his second year as the athletics and tourism manager. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Fitness Administration/Management from Texas A&M in 2008.


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