Now that it is January 2022 and the temperature is in the single digits, I thought it would be nice to review activity at the Sparta Sports Park during this past inaugural 2021 season. After years of meetings, planning, fund raising, and construction, the first opening day ceremony was on Saturday, 24 April. The park was packed; kids ready to play their first games on the new fields, parents and relatives, donors and the local Boy Scout Troop. The Boy Scout Troop conducted the flag raising ceremony at the Memorial – the Memorial they had helped design and construct, followed by speeches and a ribbon cutting ceremony in which everyone could participate. Following the ceremony, the first games began!
That first day was packed with activity. There was baseball, soccer, softball and t-ball. Not sure how many kids participated that day, but the parking lot has 300 spaces; all those spaces were filled, as were the approximately 100 spaces in the upper overflow lot and the 50 spaces in the lower overflow lot. And that was only for the early games! Those parents and their kids left, and the three lots were filled again for the later games! What a great turnout!
This level of activity continued through mid-June, with practices and some games during the week, depending on the sport. Each Saturday, the park was packed with kids playing games ….and overflowing parking lots. Not to bore you with numbers, but during one 17-day stretch, over 12,000 vehicles came into the park – just over 700 cars per day! Awesome!
Also, during the spring season, Rotary organized a coed adult kickball league that “kicked off” in June - what a hoot!! Any lack of skill was more than compensated with enthusiasm. Additionally, the Sparta Boy’s Rugby Team practiced on the multipurpose fields. They hosted a game here in the park and won. And finally, the local Young Life group organized a 5k trail run, a first in the park. It may not have been the official 5 kilometers, but it was close, and runners and volunteers appeared to enjoy the experience. During this spring season, the concession opened with soft drinks, popcorn, ice cream and candy. The menu was upgraded during the fall season to include Slurpees and hot dogs.
During the summer months of July and August, organized kid’s sports
took a break. There was still, however, a lot of activity. Kickball finished a great season. Disc golf enthusiasts used the disc golf course from dawn to dusk, regardless of the day of the week. The disc golf course was used to host several tournaments over the summer, with as many as 150 contestants per tournament. In addition to the disc golf, every weekend an adult Latino Soccer League played several games, complete with lots of spectators, good ethnic food and some great soccer! The league finished off their season with a championship game in October.
The Fall season began in earnest in late August. Kids practiced and played soccer and football on the multipurpose fields most weekdays and Saturdays. And on the days the little tykes played flag football games, all three parking lots were filled to the max! Boys and girls also participated in fall baseball, softball and t-ball. The games on the ball diamonds went well into late October.
Additionally, in October, Sparta Middle School hosted a Cross Country meet in the park. The course started on the west multipurpose field, did a loop around the baseball diamonds, an out and back in the disc golf course, and a finish back at the multipurpose field. The park was full of activity, with multiple team tents, parents everywhere on the course cheering on their kids, and coaches all over yelling at the runners.
What a great first year! And we could not have been this successful without all the volunteers!!! We had locals showing to mow, and residents with no kids asking to help in the concession, and high school kids volunteering to work the concession just because “it is fun”! Thanks to all!!!
This may have been the end of sports for the season, but activity continued. Construction started on three projects to be completed during the winter: a walking trail from State Street to the concession area, a playground/pavilion and picnic area adjacent to the concession, and a third multipurpose field for rugby, soccer, and football on the east side of the park.
What a great year! What a great community! Can’t wait for next year!