By Nathan Ham
Finding the time to exercise is always important, but it seems like around the holidays and in the colder months of the year, physical fitness gets forgotten about at times.
The Watauga Community Recreation Center has lots of things to do this winter, for seniors, adults and children of all ages. From swim lessons and youth basketball leagues to pickleball, pick-up basketball games and even just walking on the track, you’ll find plenty to do.
“Part of our challenge is trying to educate people on where to get their schedules,” said Watauga County Parks and Recreation Director Stephen Poulos. “When you come here, you need to see what is going on. People will come in wanting to play pickleball and we don’t have it set up.”
Keeping up with those schedules can be tedious at times, but thanks to the hard work from the parks and recreation staff, schedules are available online and schedule updates are posted on the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Facebook Page and Twitter page.
Pick-up basketball games and volleyball matches have been popular for indoor sports enthusiasts, as well as pickleball and people just wanting to come in and walk for some exercise.
“We’re not a therapy place, but we have people come in and say they are doing rehab and want to continue it, or they hire one of our personal trainers. Our personal trainers aren’t therapists but they are here to help,” Poulos said.
Poulos is in his 30th year now working for the parks and recreation department, and seeing people in the High Country take advantage of the great things that the new recreation center has to offer has been a source of pride for him and the staff. People have come in to lose weight and get in better shape, and even patients with Alzheimer’s come into the center to remain active and keep a set schedule to help them keep up with their days and nights easier.
“This isn’t a job that I’ve got to do, this is a job that I want to do because of the impact that we have, whether it’s a lady with Alzheimer’s or a lady losing weight to get into a wedding dress or something for kids to do to get them off the street. This is community-based; this is for everybody. That’s why it’s called Watauga Community Recreation Center,” he said. “The entire staff treats this much deeper than just a job around here. We take a lot of pride in what we do. The front desk people, the lifeguards, they are saints. The work they do and how much they care, I have been so impressed with those people. The way they conduct themselves and care about this place, I have been so impressed with everybody around here, full-time and part-time. It’s a lot of work and a lot of time. The maintenance staff, the finance department, the administration. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes people that make this happen.”
Working with the school system has also been a big boost for both the recreation center and for students getting a chance to play sports and stay active.
“The school system and Dr. Scott Elliott are tremendous partners with us. We have a joint-use agreement with them. We work with them, they work with us, it’s such a good relationship,” Poulos said. “The schools did a middle school district team that they started last year. The district team practices here, the school teams practice at the schools, and the district team played a couple of games here, which is great for us and for them. We have our youth leagues here too.”
Overall, Poulos feels like everything that happens at the recreation center evolves from feedback from the staff and from the members that use the facility. Just being able to offer everything that they do is a major win for the High Country.
“We are very fortunate for a county this size to have this thing, and for the commissioners, they deserve a whole lot of credit. It takes a lot of guts these days to spend money as an elected official, and for them to make a decision to make this happen, the commissioners past and present deserve a lot of kudos for making this happen,” Poulos said.
Membership fees and information can be found here. To become a member, you can register online or in-person at the Watauga Community Recreation Center, located at 231 Complex Drive in Boone just off of State Farm Road.
Photos courtesy of Watauga County Parks and Recreation
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