Parks and Recreation

Pandemic spotlights vital role of parks and recreation

 

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

The services and programs provided by municipal parks and recreation departments have always been indispensable to a community’s well-being and overall quality of life. If that wasn’t clear before the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly is now.

A survey by the National Recreation and Park Association found that 83% of adults say exercising at local parks, trails, and open spaces has been vital to maintaining their mental and physical health during the outbreak.

We celebrate Park and Recreation Month throughout July by highlighting the powerful role our College Station Parks and Recreation staff and professionals across the country play in health and wellness, conservation, economic impact, and social equity.

In College Station, our nationally-recognized program ensures that residents and visitors have adequate access to parks and green space. Our inventory includes 54 developed and seven undeveloped parks covering almost 1,400 acres. Amenities include: 

  • 35.5 miles of walking trails
  • 44 exercise stations
  • 58 play units
  • 28 swing sets
  • 3 dog parks
  • 1 skate park
  • 10 ponds

We invite you to join us in celebrating Park and Recreation Month by picking up a grab bag filled with parks-themed coloring pages, activities, monarch-friendly milkweed seeds, and more. Stop by the Stephen C. Beachy Central Park Office on weekdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you call 979-764-3486 when you arrive, we’ll bring it out for curbside pickup.

 


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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Celebrating Juneteenth by remembering Lincoln High

1945 Panthers Football Team

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

With Friday commemorating the sesquicentennial of Juneteenth, it’s fitting that we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of College Station’s Lincoln Recreation Center.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, and since it started in Texas, we should proudly proclaim it as uniquely ours. As part of that celebration, let’s look back at the proud history of what began as Lincoln High School.

History

More than 2,000 people came to Brazos County as slaves. Formal education didn’t exist until the Public Schools Act of 1871, but by 1923, 127 African-American students were enrolled in the A&M Consolidated School District. The district accommodated only elementary school students until it began busing pupils to Bryan’s Kemp High School.

In the 1930s, the number of African-American students steadily grew along with tuition and transportation costs. After approval in the 1941 bond election, the school district purchased five acres of land for $500 to build a high school.

The A&M Consolidated Negro School opened its doors for the 1941-42 academic year and had six classrooms, a principal’s office, and a homemaking cottage. The school continued to flourish and expanded to 296 children and 10 teachers. In 1945, the school purchased a small plot of land a block away for an athletic field.

The following year, the school’s name was changed to Lincoln High School, and Willie A. Tarrow was named principal. Tennis courts, an industrial arts shop, a science building, and a gymnasium were added in the next decade.

Social Hub

Lincoln High School served as the social hub for College Station’s black community and developed a distinctive personality as it grew. The school colors were purple and gold, and students chose the panther as their mascot. The memorable motto was, “Forward forever, backward never,” and its song was, “O’ Lincoln High.”

Discussions about integrating the A&M Consolidated School District began in 1956. After a series of meetings and seminars, officials adopted a wait-and-see approach. In the early 1960s, the school district received notice that the NAACP was requesting immediate integration of the city’s schools.

The district’s integration plan used a stair-step method through which black elementary students would be fused with white elementary students one grade at a time. Each year, a new class would leave Lincoln and become integrated. Attendance at Lincoln became voluntary.

Two of Lincoln’s teachers were reassigned to A&M Consolidated High School, and several white teachers were relocated to Lincoln. By 1965, grades 1-2 had been phased into the A&M Consolidated school system.

Devastating Fire

In early 1966, a fire destroyed one of the three classroom buildings, displacing 100 students. The facilities weren’t rebuilt, and the fire’s cause was never determined, although some speculated it was intentionally set to hasten integration. The local newspaper claimed several mysterious fires were started by an unknown arsonist around that time.

At the end of the 1965-66 school year, Lincoln’s doors were closed for good. The remaining students were integrated into other A&M Consolidated schools.

In 1967, an informal agreement between the City of College Station and the school district allowed the property to be used temporarily as a city park. Small church groups used the buildings for occasional gatherings. A year later, the school district agreed to lease the land and facilities to the city for 10 years. The College Station Parks and Recreation Department moved into Lincoln, and the facilities were used for continuing education classes and as a neighborhood recreation center.

City property next to the school became a sports field. The homemaking cottage served as the department’s office, and the industrial arts shop was converted into a maintenance shop. The city bought the land in 1978 and completely refurbished the buildings.

Lincoln Recreation Center

In 1980, the Lincoln Recreation Center was officially dedicated, serving as a tribute to the school that once stood on the site. The center is home for many community activities, including youth and senior programs, an immunization program, and an emergency management site.

Still, the memories and influences of Lincoln High School remain, and its many trophies are proudly displayed. As the first and only African-American high school in College Station, the building proudly displays an official Texas historical subject marker for African-American education.

In 1982, former students formed the Lincoln Former Students Association. In addition to organizing biennial reunions, the group provides scholarships for black students and is dedicated to preserving their heritage and memories.

A $4.3 million expansion was completed in 2019, adding a new gymnasium, additional office and meeting space, and other improvements and renovations. Today, the Lincoln Recreation Center continues its rich legacy of learning, community pride, and freedom.

Reference: Lincoln School “Black Education in College Station,” was started by Jean Clark Robinson and completed by Debbie Joystick.

 


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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USTA grant will help city tennis programs recover

By Bobbie Cantu, Athletic Supervisor

The College Station Parks and Recreation Department recently received a $2,500 Facility Recovery Grant from the United States Tennis Association to help defray the costs associated with the eventual reopening of our tennis facilities.

We’ve paused our youth and adult programs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ll use the USTA grant to cover teaching equipment, proper cleaning supplies, and other expenses. We hope to see you at our future tennis classes when regular programming returns.

Until then, we encourage you to play tennis at the 14 lighted recreational tennis courts located in these community and neighborhood parks:

Have fun, but remember to be careful and take appropriate precautions, too!

 


About the Blogger

Athletics Supervisor Bobbie Cantu is in her third year with the Parks and Recreation Department. A native of Weslaco, she earned bachelor’s (2017) and master’s (2019) degrees in Sport Management from Texas A&M.


 

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Rescheduled summer sports events can help us recover

By Gene Ballew, Athletics & Tourism Manager

What does a sports event or tournament look like in the era of COVID-19? As participants, coaches, and spectators, we’ll soon find out.

Through his executive orders, Gov. Greg Abbott has paved the way for adult and youth sports competitions to begin. The City of College Station will host its first tournament June 19-21 with more than 100 girls’ softball teams from around the state.

The challenges of recent months have led us to this point. Typically, our tournament season ramps up in April and runs through the end of July. Since the pandemic began, our goal has been to bring tourism back to College Station while maintaining the safety of our citizens, guests, and staff.

Our department has had exhaustive meetings with local health officials and tournament organizers to ensure safety guidelines and protocols laid out by the governor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are met or exceeded. The city is responsible for cleaning and maintaining our facilities, while tournament organizers will provide city-approved safety guidelines and protocols for participants and spectators.

In March, we halted eight tournaments slated to bring about 400 teams to town. Our team worked diligently to reschedule several of the events, allowing us to keep about 300 teams. Along with three new tournaments — attracting about 150 teams — we maintained millions of dollars of economic impact in our community.

Here’s a look at our summer schedule:

  • June 19-21 — Texas State Championships and Southwest Regional Showcase
  • June 27-28 — Tournament of Champions 7v7 Football
  • June 27-28 — USSSA Budweiser Invitational
  • June 30-July 3 — Battle for Texas 7v7 Football
  • July 7-12 — SSUSA Senior Softball
  • July 11-12 —The Summer Games 2020
  • July 17-19 — Texas State Championships and Southwest Regional Showcase
  • Aug. 1-2 — The Summer Games 2020
  • Aug. 29-30 — Aggieland Friendship Cup

We’ll continue to adapt to the evolving situation by adjusting our operations. Our overriding mission is to safely bring customers to town while helping our residents and businesses recover.

 


About the Blogger

Gene Ballew has been with the Parks and Recreation Department for 13 years and is in his third 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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3 water safety resources to help keep your family safe

By Bridget Russell, Aquatics Supervisor

As we approach summer, it is vital to keep your family safe when enjoying water-related activities. Drowning is the country’s fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths, and about one in five who die from drowning are 14 years old or younger.

As Water Safety Month comes to a close, the City of College Station’s Aquatics Division reminds you to be careful around swimming pools, ponds, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Here are a few resources to help keep your family safe this season:

  1. American Red Cross has developed a free, 20-minute online training program called “Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers.” The ARC’s website also offers helpful tips for emergencies and includes important swimming guidelines.
  2. Colin’s Hope is a drowning prevention non-profit organization that provides resources, information, and fundraising to help prevent drowning deaths. Its website offers prevention tips, safety resources, and even a quiz to test your knowledge.    
  3. Pool Safely is a national public education campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce childhood drownings, submersion injuries, and entrapments. Its website offers essential information about safety.

With families spending more time at home, the risk of drowning has increased. It’s crucial to integrate water safety rules into your family’s daily routine.

Stay safe and have a great summer!

 


About the Blogger

Bridget Russell has been with the City of College Station since 2012 and has served as the aquatics supervisor since 2017. She was a lifeguard at Texas A&M for almost three years after serving as an administrative clerk for the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005-11. Bridget earned bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2012) degrees in sport management from A&M.


 

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Parks & Recreation: What’s open and what’s not?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The post was updated on June 18.  

By Kelly Kelbly, Assistant Parks & Recreation Director

As Gov. Greg Abbott continues his plans to open Texas, the College Station Parks and Recreation Department has been making plans for reopening spaces, facilities, and programs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We base our discussions on federal, state, and local guidance to prioritize public health and safety.

Regrettably, budget reductions resulting from a significant decline in sales tax revenue are also a factor. Remember also that phased reopenings aren’t an immediate return to normal operations. They include necessary and appropriate measures to reduce the risks of community transmission.

Here’s a look at our current situation, including some answers to your most frequent questions.

Open Facilities

  • Basketball courts
  • Community and neighborhood parks (Directory)
  • Disc golf courses
  • Dog parks
  • Larry J. Ringer Library
  • Lick Creek Park
  • G. Hysmith Skate Park
  • Pavilions and shelters
  • Playgrounds (use is discouraged)
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • Stephen C. Beachy Central Park office
  • Tennis courts

Facility Reopening Schedule

  • Athletic Fields – June 1 for practices; June 15 for tournaments
  • Lick Creek Nature Center office and restrooms – June 1 (open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 1-6 p.m.)
  • Park restrooms and water fountains – June 1
  • Veterans Park & Athletic Complex – May 23

Remaining Facility Closures

  • Adamson Lagoon
  • Cindy Hallaran Pool
  • Fun For All Playground and splash pad
  • Lincoln Recreation Center
  • Meyer Senior & Community Center
  • Southwood Community Center
  • W.A. Tarrow splash pad

Canceled Summer Programs

  • Tsunami Swim Team
  • American Red Cross Lifeguard Training
  • Water Safety Instructor Certification
  • Swim Lessons
  • 5V5 Basketball League
  • Summer Youth Basketball
  • Summer Softball & Kickball Leagues
  • Starlight Music Series
  • Challenger Bowling
  • Water Aerobics
  • Mini Summer Camps
  • College Station Senior Games (Sept. 25-27)

For your convenience, here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Are playgrounds open?
Yes, but their use is discouraged. Citizens should stay six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with them and follow other CDC guidelines.

Is Lick Creek Park open?
Yes, the trails are open. The office and restrooms will open on June 1. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m-5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-6 p.m.

Is Veterans Park & Athletic Complex open?
The park will open on May 23. The restrooms and athletic fields open on June 1.

When will the pools and splash pads open?
Adamson Lagoon and Cindy Hallaran Pool will remain closed for the 2020 season due to budgetary constraints, limited resources and continued health and welfare concerns regarding social distancing, sanitization, and staffing requirements. We will decide at the end of July regarding the possibility of opening splash pads.

Will you have swimming lessons this year?
Swim lessons have been canceled for the 2020 season. Click here for three water safety resources to help keep your family safe.

When will the Lincoln Recreation Center’s full-day summer camp open?
The summer camp has been canceled due to strict CDC guidelines regarding group sizes, activity restrictions, social distancing, sanitization, and staffing requirements. At this time, we are planning to offer the after-school program, beginning Aug. 13.

When will the Summer Parks Guide be published?
The summer guide will not be published. We are committed to providing updated information through our website.

Who will enforce minimum health protocols for non-city-sponsored youth sports and tournaments?
User groups and tournament organizers are responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing minimum health protocols for their events at our facilities. The city is responsible for sanitizing restrooms, trash cans, and fields.

When will senior adult programming resume?
Senior programming won’t resume until the fall. People 65 years and older and those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

Are dog parks open?
Yes, Barracks, Steeplechase, and University Park are open.

Can you fish at College Station ponds?
Yes, you can fish at Brothers Pond, Cy Miller, John Crompton, and Stephen C. Beachy Central Park ponds. You must have a freshwater fishing stamp if you’re 17 or older. For information on pond stocking, harvest regulations, and license requirements, go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

Are cemeteries open?
Yes, the Aggie Field of Honor and the College Station Cemetery are open for visitation. The hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to sunset, and on Sunday from 6 a.m. to sunset.

We understand the vital role our department plays in our community’s quality of life, especially during these challenging times. We are faithfully working to create healthier, happier, and more connected communities while responsibly addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information, contact us at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Director Kelly Kelbly is in her 19th 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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Celebrate the monarch’s spring migration March 22

By Brooke Littlefield, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

As spring returns, it brings our favorite butterfly back with it.

You can expect to see more of the brilliant orange and black wings of the monarch in the next few weeks. We in the Brazos Valley are fortunate to witness the seasonal migration of the monarchs in the fall as they head south and in the spring as they return to the north.

To celebrate the spring return of our favorite winged friend, the Parks and Recreation Department hosts its annual Monarch March event on Sunday, March 22, at Lick Creek Nature Center. The free event will be from 1-4 p.m., and additional parking will be available in the Lick Creek equestrian lot.

Festivities include a walk through Lick Creek Park’s Monarch Waystation, photo and educational booths, tips on creating your waystation or butterfly garden, and much more.

Community organizations such as Butterflies in the Brazos, the Brazos Valley Master Naturalist, and Brazos County Master Gardeners will host booths and lead fun activities to help us learn how to support the amazing monarch.

Join us as we celebrate the monarchs at Lick Creek Park. For more information, visit cstx.gov/LickCreek or call 979-764-6216.

 


About the Blogger

Brooke Littlefield is in her first year as an assistant recreation supervisor. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Texas A&M in 2017.


 

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Bring your pet for Pups and Popcorn Movie Night

By Jamila Parker, Parks & Recreation Activities Assistant

We typically show our loyal pets love and appreciation with new toys or delicious treats. Since we love to spend time with our furry friends, why not bring them to a movie?

Movies in the Park at Wolf Pen Creek has you covered!

Join us on Friday, March 20, for Movies in the Park Pups and Popcorn Night at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater at 1015 Colgate Drive. We’ll show “The Secret Life of Pets 2” on our 32-foot wide inflatable, high-definition screen. Admission is free, gates open at 7 p.m., and the movie begins at sundown.

Bring refreshments, lawn chairs, and blankets, but remember that your coolers must be 48 quarts or smaller — and don’t bring alcohol or glass containers. Come early and enjoy our giant lawn games! You can buy popcorn from a vendor, but if you enter through Holleman Drive, you’ll receive free popcorn and a treat for your pet while supplies last. Please be prepared to clean up after your pet.

For more information, visit cstx.gov/events or call 979-764-3486.

 


About the Blogger

Activities Assistant Jamila Parker is in her third year with the Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Mesquite, Jamila earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Sam Houston State in 2018.


 

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Fundamental Field Hockey program starts April 1

By Trish Winkle, Fundamental Field Hockey Instructor

Did you know that field hockey is one of the most-played sports in the world?

Field hockey is similar to soccer but uses a hook-shaped stick to hit the ball up and down the field. While it’s been an Olympic sport for more than a century, field hockey in the United States has mostly been limited to the east coast.

However, the sport recently has gained popularity and blossomed across the country — even in Texas. That’s why we are thrilled to introduce our new Fundamental Field Hockey program, which is designed to expose young athletes to the sport while emphasizing fun physical activity.

Our program follows USA Field Hockey’s FUNdamental youth development program, where players learn skills and basic knowledge of positions, rules, and equipment. They also participate in intergroup games and fun competitions. We provide sticks and balls and recommended close-toed athletic shoes, shin guards, and mouth guards.

The program features 5-9 and 10-13 age divisions and runs April 1-May 6 at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. The cost is $40. Registration ends March 29 and is available online, by calling 979-764-3486 or at the Central Park office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road.

 


About the Blogger

Trisha Winkle is a former collegiate field hockey player who has coached at the club, high school, and collegiate levels. A native of New Jersey, Trish recently moved to the area to work in Texas’s A&M’s Education Abroad program. In her free time, she shares her love of field hockey.


 

 

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Family-Friendly Starlight Music Series hits 19th year

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

For 19 years, the Starlight Music Series has attracted music lovers of all kinds for free, family-friendly entertainment under the stars at the beautiful Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater.

The 2020 Starlight Music Series begins May 2, followed by shows on May 16, May 30, and June 6. We invite families, friends, and visitors to bring your picnic baskets, coolers, blankets, and lawn chairs for four Saturday nights of rockin’ fun.

Here’s the lineup:


May 2: Britishmania

The legend lives on with Britishmania, the World’s Best Beatles tribute band. With mind-blowing performances and true-to-era attire, Britishmania recreates the revolution that changed the world. The foursome delivers note-for-note theatrical performances that will take you back in time.


May 16: Bidi Bidi Banda with guest Quimikoz Del Son

Bidi Bidi Banda is Austin’s first all-star Selena tribute. Composed of members of some of Austin’s premier Latin bands, Bidi Bidi Banda is the dream of Stephanie Bergara, a native Austinite who grew up listening to Tejano radio and singing to a hairbrush while wearing her mother’s red lipstick. The band’s interpretation of Selena’s greatest hits will leave you belting lyrics, doing the washing machine, and reliving greatness of the Queen of Tejano Music.


May 30: Infinite Journey with guest Desperado

Infinite Journey is an international Journey tribute band based in Dallas that has been performing high-energy shows across the country since 2012. The five-piece group delivers a musically immersive Journey experience, focusing on the overall sound, solos, and soaring vocals that made Journey iconic.


June 6: Cupid & the Dance Party Express with guests Mi’Chel Rose and the Zydeco Players

Louisiana-born R&B vocalist Bryson Bernard, popularly known as Cupid, first sang in his church choir and was encouraged by his pastor father. Cupid shuffled his way into the hearts of millions with the up-tempo party song, “Cupid Shuffle,” which also inspired the popular dance craze of the same name.


Load up your coolers, blankets and lawn chairs for another packed schedule of open-air concerts at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater.

Here are more details:

  • Gates open at 6 p.m., with the concerts starting at 7.
  • Free parking is available at Post Oak Mall, with handicap parking off Colgate Drive.
  • Coolers and containers must be 48 quarts or smaller.
  • Pets, kegs, and glass aren’t allowed.
  • Chairs are welcome but may not occupy blanket-only seating.
  • Smoking isn’t allowed in the main seating area, but we provide designated smoking areas.
  • Concessions are available for purchase.

For more information, visit cstx.gov/starlight, call 979-764-3486, email parks@cstx.gov, or visit the Stephen C. Beachy Central Park Office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road.

 


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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Splash pads open Sunday at Central, Tarrow parks

By Jackie Rangel, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

When I was a little girl in Houston, we loved trying to keep our balance as cold water splashed on our heads from the filled buckets at a city splash pad. I fondly remember the laughs, giggles, and fun.

Oh, to be a kid again!

Children love splash pads, especially when their parents join them, so slip on your swimsuit and slather on the sunscreen — the City of College Station’s splash pads open Sunday!

With the chill of winter starting to move out and spring approaching, we know you’re more than ready for the fun and exhilaration of tipping buckets, weeping water, and the directional spray areas at our pads at W.A. Tarrow Park and the Fun for All Playground at Beachy Central Park. They’re open daily from 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Be advised that no lifeguards are on duty, so you must supervise your children. Pets, food, glass objects, alcohol, smoking, vaping, and tobacco are prohibited. We don’t allow toys, skateboards, rollerblades, skates, bikes, scooters, or similar equipment, either.

For more information, contact us at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Jackie has worked for the Parks and Recreation Department for almost six years. She’s an active volleyball mom and serves as a referee in our adult volleyball league.


 

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Part-time job fair set for March 4 at Lincoln Center

By Ana Romero, Recreation Manager

During my college years, I worked as an arts and crafts program aide at a community center. The experience introduced me to job etiquette, customer service, and creativity — skills I’ve used throughout my career.

Most successful employees have had at least one part-time job before starting their full-time careers. In addition to earning a paycheck, you learn valuable organizational and work skills, along with how to work with a team, manage your time, and budget.

The City of College Station offers similar opportunities. Part-time summer jobs with the Parks and Recreation Department include recreation assistants for our youth programs, lifeguards for our pools, water safety instructors to teach swim lessons, swim coaches for our Tsunami Swim Team, and much more.

Our Part-Time Job Fair is Wednesday, March 4 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Recreation Center. You can visit information booths, enjoy activities, meet supervisors, and complete an application. You might even get an on-site interview, so bring your resume and dress to impress.

Get your game face on, and we’ll see you there. Through our summer programs, you may even discover a career path!

 


About the Blogger

Ana Romero is in her fourth year as recreation manager. She previously served the City of McAllen as recreation supervisor, community center manager, and aquatics superintendent. Ana earned a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences from Texas A&M in 2001.


 

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Need a fresh way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

By Virginia Godwin, Recreation Supervisor

Tired of doing the same old things on Valentine’s Day? How about trying something different this year?

The City of College Station’s Trail of Lights Date Night might be the answer. Join us on Friday, Feb. 14, from 6-9 p.m. at Wolf Pen Creek Park for a romantic stroll through the Trail of Lights, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, then have dinner and dance the night away.

The event is in its third year, and we’ve added more seating for dining and a dance floor with a live DJ. Food trucks will also be available, or you can bring refreshments. Just remember that glass containers aren’t allowed and coolers must be 48 quarts or smaller.

To commemorate a memorable evening, you can take photos in the selfie booth or have a caricature drawn with your date. If you’re looking for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift, vendors will be on hand to help you out.

If you can’t make it out on Feb. 14, you can still stroll through the lights Feb. 7-16 from 6-10 p.m., although carriage rides won’t be available. Admission and activities are free, but prices for food trucks and gift vendors will vary.

Pets are also welcome, so don’t forget your furry loved ones!

For more information, visit cstx.gov/events or call 979-764-3486.

 


About the Blogger

Virginia Godwin is in her sixth year as recreation supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Sam Houston State in 2019.


 

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Lick Creek Star Party offers a relaxing escape

Silhouettes of people observing stars in night sky. Astronomy concept.

By Brooke Littlefield, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

The start of a new year typically means returning to busy schedules and beginning new ventures. Our fast-paced schedules can overtake the days, and we can’t seem to find time to pause and soak in the wonderful world around us.

A quiet evening in a serene, natural setting may be just what you need.

The Lick Creek Nature Center Star Party offers an ideal escape from your hectic lifestyle to explore the wonders of the nighttime sky. The free, family-friendly event is Friday, Feb. 21 from 7-10 p.m. and features space-themed crafts, activities, and stargazing.

We’ll learn about the phases of the moon, construct constellations, explore the night sky, and craft our way through the galaxy. Explorers can also enjoy galaxy-themed snacks, hot chocolate, and a photo booth.

Information booths about light pollution, constellations, nocturnal animals, and more will also enhance your understanding of the astronomical world. Additional parking is available at the Lick Creek equestrian entrance off Rock Prairie Road.

Grab your telescopes, friends, and family, and enjoy a night of stargazing and good company.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-6216 or blittlefield@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Brooke Littlefield is in her first year as an assistant recreation supervisor. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Texas A&M in 2017.


 

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Southwood Community Center reopening nears

By Virginia Godwin, Facilities & Events Recreation Supervisor

Droughts seem to be more common than rainy seasons in the Brazos Valley, but that certainly was not the case last year. The rain was so heavy that leaking water caused considerable damage to the 20-year-old Southwood Community Center.

The damage was severe enough that we had to close the facility for extensive repairs in early August. The facility returns to regular hours – 9.a.m-5 p.m. on weekdays – and operations on Feb. 24, but the rehabilitation is complete enough to host the initial session of the new Nia Fitness class on Tuesday, Feb. 4. The class is from 9-10 a.m. and runs through Feb. 27. Additional sessions are on tap in March and April.

When the building opened in 1999, it was christened the Exit Teen Center and served mostly teenagers during out-of-school hours. The facility began welcoming senior adults in 2005 and became the Southwood Community Center in 2010.

Last summer, senior programs moved to the new Bob and Wanda Meyer Senior and Community Center. The change allows Southwood to offer an expanded array of programs for preschoolers, homeschoolers, and adults of all ages.

To register and learn more about Southwood Community Center programs, visit cstx.gov/Southwood.

 


About the Blogger

Virginia Godwin is in her sixth year as recreation supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Sam Houston State in 2019.


 

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Join the spikeball roundnet craze on Feb. 7

By Samantha Holman, Event Specialist

We’re used to Texas A&M sports teams achieving high national rankings, but did you know an Aggie club team finished sixth in the Spikeball Roundnet Association’s College Power Rankings last fall?

Spikeball roundnet is a new recreational sport that requires agility, lateral movement, and hand-eye coordination. It’s similar to two-player volleyball, but instead of hitting a large ball over a suspended net, players hit a smaller ball into a circular net low to the ground.

Teams can still take three touches at a time — for a bump, set, or spike — as in volleyball. The objective is also the same: hit a shot the other team can’t return.

You can participate in this fun sport that’s sweeping the nation at the Spikeball Quick-Fire Tournament on Friday, Feb. 7, at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park. In a quick-fire tournament, you play games in a few hours rather than all day.

Teams consist of two players at least 14 years old and will compete against those close to their skill level as the tournament progresses. The competitive division plays by the official Spikeball Roundnet Association rules, while the recreation division focuses on developmental skills and is more relaxed on rules.

Registration ends Feb. 5, the cost is $30 per team, and equipment is provided. Register at rectrac.cstx.gov. You can also call 979.764.3486 or register in person at the Parks and Recreation office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road.

 


About the Blogger

Samantha Holman is in her first year as an event specialist in the Parks and Recreation Department. A native of San Antonio, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management from Texas A&M in 2018.


 

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Improvements on the way at Central, Bee Creek parks

By Kelly Kelbly, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass once wrote, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” A true application of that statement is dealing with construction projects in our community parks.

A prime example is the struggle you may encounter at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park and Bee Creek Park in the coming months. Next week, construction crews will begin demolishing the Central Park pavilion, restrooms, and athletic shed, as well as the Bee Creek restrooms. Reconstruction of the facilities should be finished by late fall.

The brief inconvenience will be worth it. When the project’s complete, you’ll have beautiful, functional facilities for your visits to these popular parks.

At Central, you’ll have more climate-controlled restrooms, a new kitchen to rent, and a larger pavilion footprint that allows for more seats and foot traffic. The athletic shed will also have more climate-controlled restrooms and additional seats. At Bee Creek, user groups and park patrons will enjoy more restrooms in the structure nearest the ball fields.

The parking lots may be closed at times during construction, but we encourage you to continue to use the parks. And don’t worry — ample porta potties will be available.

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Director Kelly Kelbly is in her 19th 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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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 cstx.gov/sportsvolunteer 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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For more information, go to cstx.gov/christmas.


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 parks@cstx.gov.

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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Create fond family memories at Park in the Dark

By Brooke Littlefield, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

Thanks to Lick Creek Park in the Dark, you don’t have to travel far to create fun memories with your friends and family. The Lick Creek Nature Center family invites you to join us the night of Friday, Oct. 18.

You’ll enjoy campout favorites such as a hot dog dinner, storytelling, and a night hike. Our friends from Texas A&M’s Outdoor Adventures will also help you learn camping basics. The night concludes with a showing of the Disney-Pixar film “A Bug’s Life.”

The family-friendly event begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Campers must bring a tent, supplies, snacks, and drinks. Electricity won’t be provided, and don’t forget to pack a sleeping bag, flashlights, tent lantern, bug spray, and folding chairs.

Limited spots are available, and registration ends Wednesday, Oct. 16. The cost is $8 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult (18+, and pets aren’t allowed.

If you don’t own camping gear, Outdoor Adventures can rent you some. For more information, call 979-845-7035.

Join us as we make camping memories for a lifetime!

 


About the Blogger

Brooke Littlefield is in her first year as an assistant recreation supervisor. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Texas A&M in 2017.


 

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