It was the beautiful Saturday morning. Warm. Sunny. The perfect morning to play some road hockey.
But, instead of the sounds of hockey sticks hitting pavement and the cheers of spectators, the only sounds in the parking lot at Kwantlen’s Surrey campus was the occasional passing car.
Thee Kwantlen Athletics and Recreation department was forced to cancel its road hockey tournament that was suppose to take place on Saturday, Oct. 2.
“There wasn’t enough teams,” John Stewart, recreation events coordinator, said. According to Stewart, only three teams and three individuals registered for the tournament.
“We wanted this to be a viable tournament. We actually lose money on this event. So, we needed a minimum of six teams for the tournament to go ahead,” Stewart said.
Unfortunately for Kwantlen Recreation, failed sporting events are becoming a recurring theme.
“We’ve had some successes, but it’s pretty hit and miss,” said Stewart.
Stewart believes that the struggles the department has had in generating student support for these types of events, is their inability to get their message out. With very few people following them on either Facebook or Twitter, flyers posted around campus, announcements on myKwantlen and word of mouth aren’t doing enough to get students interested and participating in these events.
“We have such a small [recreation] area down here,” said Stewart. “A lot of people don’t know what things are happening.”
To combat this, Stewart and the recreation department are trying a new strategy in order “to bring rec to the students.”
According to Stewart, the department is going to set up a recreation committee, made up of members from the recreation department, the KSA and volunteer students. The idea is to get the students more involved in the process and tell the recreation department what kinds of events interest them.
Stewart hopes that by getting students involved, it will create more enthusiasm in the student community for events such as the road hockey tournament.
Barb Floden has helped to create a monster, one that emerges at night in summer and is adored in communities throughout Metro Vancouver.
For the last five years, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation communications director has organized the Monsters in the Meadow film events, a series of free public movies screened outdoors at Ceperly Meadow, located close to Second Beach in Stanley Park.
The annual event brings hundreds of people out to watch classic B-rated monster movies in the ominous surroundings after dark.
This year, Monsters in the Meadow screened The Blob, the morbid tale of an alien life form that eats everything that gets in its way.
Floden said that despite some rain, more than 500 people showed up with blankets, popcorn and costumes to take in a bit of old-fashioned, drivein-inspired fun.
She said that event provides a great opportunity for people to come out for some affordable fun that isnâ€™t the usual programming offered by the park board.
â€œRecreation is not just sports or fitness oriented,â€ she explained. â€œItâ€™s anything to do with engaging people at the community level and bringing them together in a positive way, and arts and culture is also part of our mandate. And this is not the traditional public art and crafts and painting.â€
Since Monsters in the Meadow began in 2004, localities throughout the Lower Mainland have promoted similar free movie screenings.
With the help of Fresh Air Cinemas, an events promotion and logistics company, White Rock, Langley, Burnaby and Coquitlam all hosted public movie screenings this past summer. The cities provide the right park
or accessible space and Fresh Air comes in and sets up sound, projection and a huge inflatable screen for viewing.
Floden acknowledged that sponsorship and support for free movie events like these come from many sources, and the public support is obviously there.
She said that the West End Community Associationâ€™s showing of Momma Mia at Harbor Green Park brought out more than 1,000 people.
In Surrey, free movie events have taken on a life of their own over the past five years.
Bonnie Burnside, manager of special events and communication for the Surrey Downtown Business Improvement Association, said that she has watched their annual summer movie events grow from a small get together near the Gateway SkyTrain station to a series of full-fledged community parties at Holland Park. Burnside said that this past summer, more than 2,000 people came out each night to see family films such as The Lion King and Hannah Montana: The Movie.
Burnside said she thinks that the events fill a void in summer-events programs in Surrey and provide members of the diverse community with an opportunity to come out and meet their neighbours.
â€œIn our area, there werenâ€™t a lot of events going on in the summertime and there particularly wasnâ€™t a lot of events going on in the evening,â€ said Burnside. â€œWhat we wanted to do was show everybody that this was a great place to come and be a part of an event.â€
Public response to the films has been overwhelmingly positive, but Burnside said that it is a costly venture that comes with some strings attached.
This summer, Burnside was able to finance the Holland Park movie events, pre-show entertainment included, for about $23,000. However, she knows the cost for next year will be higher and that it will be difficult to come up with the extra funding from her budget.
In Vancouver, Flodenâ€™s concerns have less to do with funding and more to do with organization and legalities. Responsibility for advertising for the movies was shared between business associations, community associations and Fresh Air Cinema, which made it difficult to find out where and when the events were happening.
To make matters worse, she said that many community associations bought the wrong public-screening licenses, which prevented them from advertising the names of the films screened. She said that things will be organized differently next year.
â€œWeâ€™ll do a group marketing effort that can show people â€˜here is all of the events happening in our parks this summer,â€™ because people donâ€™t really care who sponsors them, they just want to go see a free movie,â€ said Floden with a laugh.
â€œThey can come out and just hang out at the park with their friends and neighbours and donâ€™t have to open their wallets at all.â€
New fitness and recreation classes are springing up across Kwantlen campuses this year as part of an initiative to get more students physically fit.
Faculty and the Kwantlen Student Association are trying to get the word out about yoga, belly dancing and hip-hop classes beginning this fall, while they brainstorm ideas for intramural sports, other classes and clubs.
Classes already introduced are hatha yoga (a gentle posture and breathing exercise class), power yoga (a cardio- and strength-intensive exercise class), belly dancing and hip-hop dancing.
Hatha yoga was offered last year and saw a moderate response from students. But small registration numbers are complicating the introduction of the new classes. Though hatha yoga and power yoga had enough registration to start as scheduled in September, the dance classes were delayed for several weeks.
Recreation coordinator John Stewart said getting students interested has been difficult, something he attributes to the lack of awareness about recreation opportunities at Kwantlen.
â€œYou have to build a reputation, and once you get that, you get people coming to you to look for recreation programs. Itâ€™ll take some time.â€
The classes, coming intramurals and clubs are being pushed by the faculty and the KSA to promote mind-and-body health.
â€œIf theyâ€™re healthy and theyâ€™re exercising, their mind is healthy and theyâ€™ll do better in school,â€ Stewart said. â€œItâ€™s really important to keep yourself active. You think better and you think more clearly.â€
Elmo Lara, a KSA coordinator for the Student Health Improvement Program, is trying to raise awareness about a new running club that is being formed. He works to develop programs that will help students understand the connection between fitness and study success.
â€œIf theyâ€™re not physically fit, their brain wonâ€™t be working as it should,â€ he said.
When asked about the relevance of the dance and yoga classes to Kwantlen students, Stewart laughed and said â€œthey were just trying to offer something different. With the hip-hop, they were really trying to focus on something students might be interested in because itâ€™s typically a younger style of [dance].â€
The classes also reflect a gender discrepancy, which Stewart attributed to registration. Females register more frequently than males, he said, but intramural sports are generally male-driven.
Stewart is organizing several recreation classes and intramurals for introduction next semester. Ideas so far include a boot camp, kettlebells and a morning yoga session. Suggestions are welcome; contact John Stewart at (604) 599-2307.