Monday, March 27, 2023

Our Park and Recreation Story: The Athletics Dream Team

July is National Park and Recreation Month. There are many stories to tell about the professionals that dedicate their career to creating life-long memories for your families.

Today, we are featuring the dream team that oversees Athletics here at the City of Southlake. If you have ever signed up for an Athletics program in Southlake, then you’ve benefitted from the work of Leigh Blake and Chelsea Cherry!

Leigh and Chelsea manage the athletics programs you love, such as BaseballTots, Basketball Skills Academy, and the athletic leagues. They share a passion for sports, bringing our community together, and creating world-class experiences for Southlake’s young athletes.

Athletics is a staple division in many Parks and Recreation departments across the country. Not only does participating in athletics promote physical wellness, but communities that value sports are safer, healthier, and more socially bonded than passive communities. For many children, municipality athletic leagues and camps are the first contact they have with sports. That’s why Leigh and Chelsea take their job so seriously. Let’s get to know them a little better.

My Park and Recreation Story: Leigh Blake, Athletics Supervisor
I’m originally from Tennessee and grew up playing soccer and softball. I won a state championship in soccer and was a state champion bowler in high school. I moved to Texas four years ago to pursue a career in athletics. I have worked in various roles and sports, including USA Baseball, junior golf, campus, and community recreation.

The best part of my job is watching kids have fun and learn life lessons playing sports. One of my favorite memories at work comes from my time in junior golf. We hosted a tournament at TPC Sawgrass, and I selected the hole location for our event on the famous island green there!

My Park and Recreation Story: Chelsea Cherry, Athletics Coordinator
I’m from a small town in East Texas. I moved to DFW to attend Dallas Baptist University, where I graduated with a Master’s in Sports Management. I grew up around sports, specifically football, everything shuts down on Friday nights in a small town for the HS football game, and baseball, (my little sister was a collegiate softball player). My true love of sports came from competitive cheerleading.

I started tumbling classes when I was five years old, but I was a shy kid. I didn’t get the courage to join my gym’s cheer team until I was 15. In those few years that I competed, I got to experience winning multiple state and national championships. I also learned how to be confident, come out of my shell, be a part of a team, deal with wins and losses, and many other critical life skills that come with sports. This is what drew me into a career in athletics!

My favorite part of my job is working with our staff to help them learn skills and build character traits that will carry them far beyond their time with the City. The best memories at work are always on the first game night of each season. All the stress, hard work, time, and effort spent preparing come together to create an environment full of excitement and fun for the kids and families!

Thank you, Leigh and Chelsea, for being a part of our winning Park and Recreation Team!

Getting Wild at Nature Camp

We are right in the heat of summer, and things are getting wild at our annual Cross Timbers Summer Nature Camp.

Summer camps are an industry staple in Parks and Recreation. Here in Southlake, we are fortunate to offer our young residents various fun and entertaining summer camp options each year. Something that makes our community unique is our proximity to the Cross Timbers and Prairies ecosystem.

Our Cross Timbers Summer Nature Camp is a community favorite and a vital part of Our Park and Recreation Story. This summer, campers get to explore their wild side with fun activities to practice outdoor skills, hike, create arts and crafts, and learn about our local ecosystem.

Here are a few highlights of what Nature Camp has been up to this summer:

  • Campers do a 2-mile hike to Lake Grapevine every week. At the lake, they get to play on the swing and near the water before hiking back. On average, each camper hikes around eight miles per week!
  • Guest presenters are a special treat for Nature Camp. This summer, the kids have learned from the Tarrant Regional Water District, The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, Creature Teacher, archery, and Mad Science!
  • Each week presents a different theme. Last week, the campers learned about sustainability and made some awesome recycled robots.
  • Campers always make great use of the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve! Each week, kids spend hours searching for grasshoppers and other critters. They always talk about the history of the land—which includes the Jones Family and the Tucker Family.
  • Every Friday, there is a Field Day Party!

With so many out-of-this-world activities, it’s no wonder Nature Camp is such a crowd favorite! But the summer is not over yet.

Here’s a sneak-peak into what campers can look forward to in the weeks to come:

  • This week, campers are learning about flowers and will be planting around the Nature Center. They will also dye and plant seeds that they can take home.
  • There will be more animal presentations coming! In addition, the Southlake DPS will present a Wilderness First Aid class to campers!
  • The final week will be the “Animal Olympics.” Campers will learn about the extraordinary feats animals can achieve—including the critters found right here in Southlake.

It wouldn’t be a Southlake summer without our summer camps and the incredible staff that make them happen. Part of our Park and Recreation Story is working hard to create life-long memories for our kiddos, and Cross Timbers Nature Camp is the perfect place to get wild!

Our Park and Recreation Story: Recreation Specialist Kat Dye

Southlake Senior Activity Center Members will tell you that a trip to the SAC is guaranteed to be a world-class experience.

At the Senior Center, we pride ourselves on providing our seniors with top-notch services every day. From offering innovative social programs and weekly luncheons to interactive group fitness classes, we aim to help Southlake seniors make life-long memories. If you are a Senior Center member, then you’ve met Recreation Specialist Kat Dye.

Kat joined the Senior Activity Center as a part-time Recreation Specialist in August 2019 and soon became a full-time employee. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 2018. Kat likes to be active and enjoys participating in group exercise classes at Champions Club. Her all-time favorite activity, however, is spending time with her adorable six-year-old son. As the face of the Senior Center’s front desk Guest Services, Kat’s responsibility includes selling and renewing memberships, registering senior members for programs, and assisting the Senior Services Coordinator, Soheila Phelps, with program planning and implementation.

Kat is always ready to greet guests with a smile and help seniors make the most of their Senior Center membership. Alongside Soheila Phelps, Kat is part of the dynamic duo that makes the Southlake SAC a special place.

When asked about her favorite aspects of her job, Kat replied, “what I love most about my job is hearing history from our seniors’ unique perspectives and being able to learn from their life experiences. The ability to serve our seniors and help provide a world-class experience for this community is the most fulfilling job I could possibly imagine.”

When asked about a favorite memory at the Senior Center, Kat shared that “I can’t say I have a favorite memory at the Senior Activity Center. Every day that I get to come to work here is a dream come true!”

We are so glad to have Kat at the Southlake Senior Activity Center. Her contributions to our department make up a crucial part of Our Park and Recreation Story.

We love taking the time to tell our stories as we continue to play a role in your own Park and Recreation Story this Park and Recreation Month!

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this July

The City of Southlake Community Services Department celebrates Park and Recreation Month this July by telling “Our Park and Recreation Story.”

The United States has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month since 1985. The City of Southlake is proud to follow that tradition. Just this week, Mayor Huffman proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month in Southlake. This month highlights the vital and powerful role local park and recreation professionals play in building more vibrant, and more resilient communities across the country.

It’s no secret that access to public parks and recreational activities is vital to a healthy and thriving community. In Southlake, we are proud to have more than 1,000 acres of parkland and hundreds of programs and activities for all residents to participate in each year. We strive to be the premier recreation destination for our residents. It’s what keeps us motivated to go to work every day.

When you visit one of our parks, The Marq, or participate in one of our programs, our goal is to create life-long memories for you and your family. Everything we do is for you! When you give us your time, we do everything we can to create a world-class experience for you.

This month we celebrate all the stories that make up our park and recreation history. We honor everything we have accomplished—from the staff who work hard to bring you world-class services, to the amenities and programs our department offers.

Follow our Experience Southlake Facebook Page to see pictures and hear stories about our team. We will also be sharing staff highlights on My Southlake News this month, so stay up-to-date with all our articles as we share Our Park and Recreation Story.

Celebrate Park and Recreation month by exploring a new park, visiting Champions Club, or signing up for one of our world-class programs. There is always something exciting to do in Southlake, and that’s reason enough to celebrate this month and beyond!