Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Sports Star of the North

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Sports Star of the North

Article excerpt

From its smattering of professional sports teams to its host of programs for young children, Minnesota's capital city is the embodiment of an active community harboring a true appreciation for leisure and recreation. As the city's public recreation agency, the St. Paul Division of Parks and Recreation (SPDPR) includes as its mission is to "provide and facilitate" organized athletic programs.

St. Paul is home to the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League and hosted the NHL All-Star Game in 2004, while Midway Stadium is the base of operations for the St. Paul Saints, a popular professional baseball franchise. The city also hosts the Minnesota state high-school tournaments for baseball and wrestling as well as the nationally acclaimed boys' high-school hockey tournament. In addition to these opportunities for high-level spectatorship, St. Paul's citizens enjoy a variety of ways in which to participate in community sports programs and physical fitness activities themselves.

It all starts and ends with the efforts of SPDPR. Simply put, the organization's efforts are tireless and their scope formidable. SPDPR manages the Office of Municipal Athletics (OMA), which itself directly serves more than 1,500 organized teams and more than 20,000 participants. Additionally, the OMA also recruits, trains and evaluates more than 400 sports officials every year. Included among the SPDPR's Facilities are more than 160 parks and open spaces, 41 recreation centers, three 18-hole golf courses, 24 bicycle and pedestrian paths, one indoor pool and two outdoor pools, a public beach and sports facilities.

The division also facilitates various community sports opportunities. By making city-managed facilities available to various groups, including the STAR swim club, Blackhawks Soccer, the Urban Tennis Program, the Youth Ski League and the Fairway Foundation, the division effectively matches quality programming with locally accessible facilities. The ultimate result of these efforts being additional available community sports opportunities for residents.

SPDPR is committed to providing access to community sports programs within all segments of the population. By encouraging participation, promoting skill development, and providing a sale and fun experience, SPDPR strives to create a rewarding athletic experience for all participants, For young athletes, many of whom are experiencing organized sports for the first time, these initial positive experiences create an environment that fosters continued participation. …

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