By Sadie Hunter
Brandon Bennett, Noblesville’s Parks and Recreation Dept. director, says that through the winter, his team jokes that they sit around and eat bon bons and watch soap operas, but in looking at the work that gets accomplished and the programming offered by the department for the community, the joke couldn’t be further from the truth.
While some community events and programming do slow down, this year’s opening of the department’s new Recreation Annex at Ivy Tech’s Hamilton Co. campus at 17th and Conner Streets in Noblesville has made the winter season a “whole new ballgame,” Bennett said.
One of the newest sports being offered is bubble ball soccer, where a large, inflatable ball goes over everything except the person’s legs, allowing soccer and other various activities to be played with added safety and protection and the ability to run directly into other players, bouncing off of them.
“It’s a unique, new sport, and that’s what we were looking for. We are trying to bring some more unique things to the community,” Bennett said. “We’re still kind of brainstorming and dreaming a little bit. We’d love to continue to develop this into a whole kind of corporate outing day over there with all the facilities we’ve got, like team-building exercises. We think we’ll start to see some of that type of stuff happen.”
The addition of the bubble ball equipment, along with this summer’s rolling out of Rec2Go – a van that brings recreation equipment into communities and to various community events – is representative of what’s happening on a larger scale within the parks department.
“We’re looking at things at things we can do that are unique to the community … and that’s where the concept of Rec2Go came from. That’s also the concept of where the bubble soccer game from. We just started doing things a little bit differently,” Bennett said. “We have a young, talented team. We’ve got fresh blood here. There’s a lot of new ideas that came in with them.”
Expanded opportunities at the Recreation Annex have certainly put more work on the shoulders of the administrative staff of six this season.
“Now having a facility available where we can grow things and offer different opportunities … we just have the opportunity to offer some things we’ve not had before,” Bennett said. “You know, we’ve never had a gym. We’ve never had a wellness room or classrooms per se, so now, we can really start to think outside the box a little bit. Of course there’s going to be a lot of traditional stuff as well, basketball, volleyball, all of that stuff, but that’s also stuff we never had (before the annex). So, to us, it’s new.”
The Recreation Annex is made up of a community gym, two locker rooms, two classrooms and a wellness room.
Bennett said several basketball leagues rent the space for practices and tournaments. Softball teams rent the space often too, as the gym features batting cages.
The wellness room serves a space for programming like yoga classes, boot camp and other types of workouts and fitness classes.
“(The wellness room is) not treadmills and stair steppers and those types of things. It’s barbells, different balls and TRX training. A lot of it is very non-traditional stuff,” Bennett said. “We look to expand that, but we need to get some funding in place in order to do that, to bring in some more non-traditional, interactive types of (equipment).”
Bennett said the two classrooms in the annex are and will be used for any classes the department decides to offer, like SafeSitter, Life Skills for Teens and Art at the Annex.
“Around Ivy Tech’s schedule, we also have the ability to utilize the lower gym, what we call the college gym. So we can rent that space as well,” Bennett said. “So between our classes and the rentals, our evenings are pretty well booked.”
Sign up or drop in
Various programs will be available through the winter season, with more to be announced at the beginning of the year. Right now, both youth and adult residents can sign up for a bubble ball soccer league, yoga and other various fitness classes and sessions. Drop-in times are also available throughout the week. “Right now we do have drop-in times available from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday for pickle ball, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, we have drop-in basketball,” Bennett said. “We’ll expand that in the evening at some point in time.” For more, visit www.cityofnoblesville.org/parks or call 776-6350.