Putting down re­cre­ation roots

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER BASE­BALL nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Bri­gus re­cre­ation direc­tor John Brown is look­ing to lay down a solid re­cre­ation base in the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity.

There’s the de­vel­op­ment of a suc­cess­ful sum­mer pro­gram, the pur­chas­ing of new equip­ment and max­i­miz­ing the spa­ces they have.

There’s the walk­ing track, play­ground and ball­field near the site of the old high school, as well as am­ple space next to the town hall.

With that in mind, he’s been look­ing at var­i­ous grants and com­ing up with ways to best max­i­mize what the town al­ready has built.

“My plan is to grow re­cre­ation as a whole for the com­mu­nity,” he said. “I’d like to see it be­come a big­ger thing.”

At the front of this is the sum­mer pro­gram. It’s de­signed to pro­vide a recre­ational outlet for the chil­dren in the town. It’s where they get ex­po­sure to dif­fer­ent sports.

“This is where it starts,” said Brown.

The Bri­gus sum­mer rec pro­gram had a suc­cess­ful sea­son last sum­mer and Brown is look­ing for more of the same this time around. Last year, they filled over 50 spots out of a pos­si­ble 60.

“Last year was my first year at it and it went fairly smooth,” he said. “I’m hop­ing we’ll see it grow this year. I thought we had a lot of good feed­back from last year.”

Head­ing into his first year on the job, Brown — who took part in and worked at the sum­mer pro­gram grow­ing up — tried to base what he did on what he re­mem­bers tak­ing part in from his pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences with the pro­gram.

Now, he’s look­ing at putting his own spin on it and of­fer­ing some­thing unique to the chil­dren in the town and the re­gion. The Bri­gus pro­gram at­tracts kids from all over.

“I’m try­ing to draw more from my ex­pe­ri­ences up north,” he said. “I’m re­ally try­ing to grow it. I’m try­ing to make the pro­gram a good op­tion for (chil­dren).” It’s a

How it works

six-week pro­gram for chil­dren ages five to 12 and fea­tures plenty for chil­dren to sink their teeth into. Be­sides the req­ui­site plethora of sport­ing op­tions, Brown has a full slate of field trips planned for the group.

There’s moves to the Ax­tion Cen­tre, boat trips, the Coastal Rail­way Mu­seum and oth­ers like Earle’s Rid­ing Horses in Car­bon­ear and bowl­ing.

“We’re try­ing to get a bit of swim­ming in there,” said Brown. “You’re get­ting your money’s worth.”

Canada Day

Com­mu­ni­ties go all out for Canada Day and Bri­gus is no dif­fer­ent. Aside from blow­ing up its bouncy cas­tle set and bal­loon twist­ing, there will be plenty of things for chil­dren in the area to do.

It’ll take place at on the field ad­ja­cent to the town of­fice on Wa­ter Street and fea­ture a good, old fash­ion com­mu­nity cook out, along with Ray’s Rep­tiles and other at­trac­tions.

It all gets started around 10 a.m.

Next door to the old Bishop O’Neil Col­le­giate — now apart­ments — lies the town’s ball­field.

With an over­grown in­field and nary a sign of a warn­ing track, it’s seen bet­ter days. Brown rec­og­nizes this and has eyes on re­pur­pos­ing the space into a soccer field with some ad­di­tional park­ing built in.

“Hope­fully have a lit­tle skate­board park up there. Some­thing where we can have the boards up there and we can freeze it over in the win­ter and make a lit­tle rink out of it,” he said.

A younger Eric Ardis spent hours kick­ing around a soccer ball on a tiny plot of land just be­hind his fam­ily’s home in Co­ley’s Point.

It was dirt when he started, but that soon changed to grass. Chalk lines were painted on to re­sem­ble a net. It gave him a tar­get to fo­cus on as the now 13-year-old got stronger.

Even­tu­ally, Ardis got his first goal and things started tak­ing off.

The good ones are all born like this. They were like Ardis,; just a kid kick­ing the ball around their back­yard.

So, what drives a young ath­lete to keep him­self busy for hours just boot­ing a ball around the back gar­den?

“I love foot­ball,” said Ardis us­ing the world­wide moniker in­stead of North Amer­ica’s soccer. “It’s a dif­fer­ent type of game. I can re­late to it.”

On this side of the pond, soccer gets a bad rap for be­ing a bor­ing game. That no­tion is be­gin­ning to change now, but in the land where hockey is king there are still those who have a dis­like for it.

Not Ardis. He gets lost watch­ing ev­ery­thing un­fold on the pitch.

“I like the sud­den at­tack and coun­ter­at­tack of the game,” he said.

That love and the hours of hard­work has paid off for the Amal­ga­mated Academy stu­dent. In a cou­ple of weeks, he’ll travel to Char­lot­te­town, P.E.I., for the Un­der-14 Boys At­lantic Cham­pi­onships July 7-10.

He’ll join an­other lo­cal stand­out — keeper Zachary Crane — on the team.

“I was re­ally ex­ited to find out I had made the team,” Ardis noted.

A mid­fields dream

Be­ing able to an­tic­i­pate and read the play is one of the as­pects that makes Ardis like the mid­field po­si­tion.

It’s the spot he’s played for the past cou­ple of sea­sons with the CBN Light­ning and one he’ll con­tinue to play this sum- mer with the CBS Strik­ers and Team NL.

The mid­field po­si­tion is one that has a cou­ple for roles. Play­ers need to be able to help out de­fen­sively, as well as have an idea of when to jump into the play

Mid­field­ers are also the con­duit that leads to team of­fense.

“You’re in­volved in the play a lot,” said Ardis. “There’s a lot pass­ing and run­ning, which I like.”

Get­ting bet­ter

Ardis isn’t one to be sat­is­fied with keep­ing the sta­tus quo. A right-footed kicker who is just as adept with his left foot, the young­ster aims to work on the weaker parts of his game this sum­mer.

The goal is to get bet­ter at han­dling the ball and con­trol­ling the ball. It’s an as­pect of soccer that plays into help­ing your­self and help­ing team­mates.

“I’d like to be able to hold onto the ball a lit­tle longer,” he said. “I like cre­at­ing for my team­mates and that’ll help me do that.”

Last week, Ardis con­cluded his ex­ams. That means he’s grad­u­ally inch­ing closer to sum­mer va­ca­tion and Char­lot­te­town.

“Ev­ery­day, I say (the tour­na­ment) is one day closer,” he said.

The tour­na­ment rep­re­sents the chance for Ardis to take full stock of his skills and map out where he can get bet­ter.

“I re­ally want to see what I can do against that com­pe­ti­tion,” he said.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

John Brown is the re­cre­ation direc­tor for the Town of Bri­gus.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Co­ley’s Points’ Eric Ardis is a mem­ber of the pro­vin­cial un­der-14 male soccer team.

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