by Matt Starlight
Have you ever played pickleball before? What about boxing, dodgeball, rugby or disc golf? For the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, all these unusual sports and more are at your disposal through BREC.
For years, BREC has provided the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish the opportunity play sports with the community. Its main duties in the larger leagues is to facilitate the fields and make sure everything is in proper working order for the games to be played. Baton Rouge Soccer and Red Stick Kickball are a few of the leagues that operate in tandem with BREC; they handle the registration, BREC handles field operations.
What makes BREC so noteworthy, though, isn’t their groundskeeping capabilities. Where they really shine is twofold: the wide variety of sports they provide and the inclusiveness that those leagues demonstrate.
“We offer several different sports,” said Richard Bentley-Smith, athletics program coordinator. “We offer a wide variety of sports that goes from a traditional sports like football, basketball, volleyball, and softball to recently we started leagues like ultimate Frisbee. This last year, we offered the floor hockey league at Perkins Road which was a very large success. We also offer dodgeball and kickball to the area.”
BREC offers sports from kickball to floor hockey or from rugby to “pickleball,” a paddle-based game for beginners and experts alike. Cricket is one of the sports that BREC is working hard to incorporate.
“We work with a group that plays cricket out at Burbank and Airline Highway,” said Smith. “But we haven’t gotten enough interest to offer it as a viable league at this time, but we do offer the sport to the community.”
It’s not just a matter of what people can play, but who can play it. BREC offers coed leagues, leagues for beginners, more competitive players, and even physically and mentally disabled players.
“We offer our inclusive leagues, which are for individuals with and without intellectual and physical disabilities, which we love to do as well and we offer those year round,” said Smith.
Those leagues are offered for virtually all ages and are one of the shining focal points for the staff and community alike.
“It is truly a blessing,” Smith said. “You will not go out there without smiling, I love going out there. It’s one of the events that I try to make sure I’m at every single week; it gives you a whole new meaning to recreation to leave here every week with a smile and know you’re making an impact on these kids lives.”
For players just starting at a new sport, BREC offers more leisurely leagues designed to get people started.
“Our target market is the first time person. ‘Oh, you’re a female in your 20s who’s never played softball before, but your teams putting together a softball team?’ We want you to feel comfortable to come out there,” said Smith.
The beginner leagues are often coed, which offers great opportunities for both personal and professional relationships.
“In some cases, you have husbands and wives who are able to go out there and play together, and participate in sports that they’ve never participated in; you’re giving corporations an opportunity to get out there and play outside of work and it helps with team morale and business morale,” said Smith.
If you’re looking for a little more blood, sweat, and tears though, BREC has got you covered with its more intense leagues.
“We have competitive leagues that we offer for flag football, basketball, volleyball and so forth. We’ve had flag football teams that will go and compete at national championship tournaments in different areas,” said Smith.
“The main thing is to get people outside and playing having fun, whether on a youth or adult level.”