Putting down recreation roots
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.”
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.”
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.
John Brown is the recreation director for the Town of Brigus.
Coley’s Points’ Eric Ardis is a member of the provincial under-14 male soccer team.