SFSU: How the Community Plays – Minnie and Lovie Ward

Minnie and Lovie newly renovated playing field

It was a breezy sunny Thursday evening in San Francisco. The recreation center that I visited is named Minnie & Lovie Ward Recreation Center. The park occupies four large city blocks, which is enormous.  When I arrived there was many different places to enter. I chose the primary entrance where the park name was facing. As I entered a large pathway stood before me. I noticed in the horizon over a large grass hill, a large athletic field filled with crowds of people of different ages and diversity. As I strolled along the path there was a playground where kids are running and playing while being supervised by parents mingling amongst themselves. As they wander through the obstacles and play on the contraptions, I noticed a big slide that leads to the soccer field. Although it is broken I would love to go down this slide in the near future. I entered the facility and there a long hallway connects the path to the center. The moment I stepped through the gates I see a large office on the right with bulletins and a small staff. I then proceeded to ask for information about the recreation center.

A nice lady named Kay agreed to take me on a tour of the facility. I asked her how much it was to rent the facilities and she told me the estimates of each room. She also told me about the programs that they offered. Most of the programs were for kids and senior citizens. The office was full of decorations, computers, and had many cabinets. Right behind the office there is a large auditorium. The auditorium is a really good size and has a small stage perfect for small groups and meetings. Further down the hallway there is a large courtyard with a Ping-Pong room in the corner. In the Ping-Pong room people played Ping-Pong on three Ping-Pong tables. The people inside this room were mostly Chinese ages ranged from thirties then on.  The yard was splendid and filled with plants and a tree. Older kids most of them in their adolescence dwelled in this small yard, which comes equipped with a mini basketball hoop, two outdoor Ping-Pong tables, and a tetherball stringed to a pole. Overseeing this large courtyard is a row of several rooms. There is a tot room, a kitchen, an art room, two public bathrooms, and an exercise room. The tot room is filled with toys and kid stuff. The kitchen is big and had almost every kitchen appliance you could think of. In the art room there is a small group of old Chinese guys playing Chinese chess. The exercise room has weight lifting equipment, two treadmills, and a couple of cycles.

At the very end of the hallway beside the exercise room there is a large basketball gymnasium. Inside the basketball gym there are six basketball hoops, a scoreboard, three bleachers, and a room right under the scoreboard. This is where I played basketball. There were a lot of people in the gym including kids and adults. On one side they played a half court set mostly all Chinese people. On the other side they had a cross-court set that required two hoops. I played three pick-up games on the cross court with a large group of adults’ ages ranging from the twenties to the thirties. The people there were mostly Black, Asian, and Mexican ethnicity. Some of them seemed to know each other while some kept to themselves or came in a couple. It was really entertaining and the best part of it was it was free to the public.

After I had finished playing basketball I wandered outside into the courtyard and noticed that it overlooks the great athletic field. The stadium lights were on and the place was extremely bright. They have many soccer goals, two baseball diamonds, and some lacrosse goals. The majority of people on the field were playing soccer. Also most of the kids were practicing soccer while being supervised by coaches and some parents. The people on the field were really diverse and a team was occupying each part of the field. The first thing I noticed when I arrived onto the field was a great mural in the corner of the field. The mural was very lively; it really brings out the color of the field and represents community and culture. Behind the mural there is a little amazon in a hill full of grass and dirt. At the top of that hill there is an outdoor basketball court, two tennis courts, and a small community garden that comes with its own set of stadium lights. The community garden was very small and caged up. I left the recreation center very satisfied with my experience here.

If I were to make any changes to this park, I would suggest a few things. First I would fix the slide because it is a very noticeable attraction, and I think people use it even if it is broken. The park is amazing except for the part behind the mural. A big hill full of dirt and grass that doesn’t have a path but looks like it’s been walked on. I would love to see the community garden expand and improve as I think it is vital for the community to have this space to socialize. The outdoor courts could use some improvement because the rest of the park was renovated and it looked like they left this part untouched. Other than that the park is fantastic. It has almost everything that makes a recreation center great. The most remarkable feature is the athletic field it takes up half of the park and tons of people use it. The field was actually opened this summer and definitely makes this park a landmark.