Get ready to lace 'em up at Rock Chalk Park.
City officials have released their first schedule for classes and leagues that takes advantage of new space at the city-owned recreation center at Rock Chalk Park, and it includes everything from a new youth basketball league for girls to a fitness class that touts "rock bottoms" at Rock Chalk Park. Classes and leagues are scheduled to begin in September, but sign up begins on April 27.
"As a staff, we threw out a lot of ideas for new classes and programs," said Tim Laurent, recreation operations manager for the city's parks and recreation department. "It was a fun project. It is something you don't get to do every day."
The new center will give parks and recreation leaders 181,000 square feet of new space to hold classes, leagues, presentations and more. The center includes eight full-court gyms, 16 volleyball courts, a walking track, an indoor turf field, gymnastics area, weight room and other features.
Here's a look at several areas where classes/leagues have been added or expanded:
• Competitive Basketball: The city will offer separate Hoopster basketball leagues for boys and girls. Previously the Hoopster league, a completive league, technically was co-ed, but the league was dominated by boys' teams, said Lee Ice, youth sports supervisor. Now, the extra gym space will allow the city to offer both boys and girls leagues for second through seventh graders. Previously, the league was open to second through sixth graders, but the extra space will allow the program to expand, Ice said. All Hoopster games will be played at Rock Chalk Park on Mondays through Thursdays, Ice said. Previously all games were played at the Community Building in downtown.
• Youth recreation league basketball: The city plans to offer 16 weeks of recreation league basketball for boys and girls, compared to eight weeks in previous years. The full schedule hasn't yet been released, but Ice said plans call for eight weeks before Christmas and eight weeks after Christmas. Participants will be given the option to sign up for either eight-week session or both sessions. Recreation league games will continue to be played on Saturdays at various recreation centers around the city, but not at Rock Chalk. The Rock Chalk center is expected to be booked for competitive tournaments on most weekends.
• Girls volleyball: The city will offer youth volleyball leagues for fourth graders through eighth graders. Chad Tower, facilities operations supervisor for parks and recreation, said the new space will allow the league to start in early September instead of later in the fall. He said the city also will consider offering a youth volleyball league in the winter, depending on demand.
• Youth indoor soccer: For the first time, the city will offer indoor soccer on an artificial turf field. Previously, the closest offering to indoor soccer was futsal, which is a soccer-like game played on a gym floor. The indoor soccer league will be for kindergarten through 12th grade students, and will include both boys' and girls' leagues.
• Adult sports: The city will offer an adult flag football league. The league in the fall will be played outdoors, but Laurent said preliminary plans are to offer an indoor league during the winter at the Rock Chalk Park indoor turf field.
• Senior classes: The new schedule lists about 20 new classes or programs for seniors, with the majority of them located at Rock Chalk Park, but others going into spaces that have become available at other recreation centers around town. New class offerings include: Fit after Fifty; Flexrcise; Senior Tennis; and a Walking Club that uses the indoor walking track at Rock Chalk Park.
• General fitness classes: About 18 new fitness classes are being offered including: Core and More: BOSU Fitness; iBurn; Power Sculpt; Rock Bottom; Piyo; and Tabata Core.
The new schedule also lists multiple new classes for general recreation, dance, and gymnastics. In addition, parks and recreation leaders said they anticipate that the new space at Rock Chalk Park will make it easier for individuals and families to use gyms at the city's other recreation centers.
"We want to provide more opportunities for free play at the community centers," said Roger Steinbrock, director of marketing for parks and recreation. "It should be easier for parents to go out there with their kids and work on skills, and work on bonding."
The Parks and Recreation Summer/Fall Activities guide is available online at lawrenceks.org/lprd. The guide also will be distributed in the Journal-World on Sunday, Steinbrock said. People can begin signing up online on Sunday or at recreation centers on Monday.