The Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S. Western, offers a variety of ways for area residents to pursue fitness and fun. The complex houses an NHL size ice rink with seating for 1,200 spectators, state -of-the-art gymnastics center, and busy fitness studio, and offers classes and programs, as well as competitive teams. Owned by the Chicago Park District and managed by SMG (which also manages Soldier Field), the Center is ADA accessible and open 7 days a week. Online registration for winter classes begins Tues., Jan. 2 at chicagoparkdistrict.com, and in-person registration starts Sat., Jan. 6, 10 a.m. The winter session begins Jan. 22. Find the class schedule at morganparksportscenter.com.
Under the supervision of Hockey Director John Gannon, the Center offers co-ed USA Hockey programs that include American Developmental Model (ADM) learn-to-skate and hockey skill-building classes that start with tots, and team hockey for four age levels beginning at age 8 and continuing to age 14. This is the first season for the Chicago Horned Frogs Youth Hockey Club. There are six youth teams with room for more, Gannon said. Adult teams compete throughout the metropolitan area in the Northwest Hockey League.
According to Gannon, hockey is great exercise and good for developing hand/eye coordination and learning the life lessons of team play. It’s also a commitment — the Horned Frogs are on the ice three times a week.
High school hockey teams practice at the Center, and skate times are also scheduled for Stick n’ Puck and Rat Hockey scrimmages.
Gannon has Level 5 coaching certification from USA Hockey, and a long history as a player and coach.
Figure skating programs focus on building skills and start with classes that familiarize toddlers with moving around on the ice to classes for adults, said Figure Skating Coordinator Kathy Janik. Ice time is at a premium at the busy Center, which opens for classes at 6 a.m. and stays open until midnight to accommodate practice times.
All skaters enrolled in classes are eligible to compete in the Center’s Broadway theme ice show in May, a showcase of skills that includes solo and specialty performances. The show requires complex planning, rigorous rehearsals, the help of volunteers, and costumes for the participants. “It’s like a dance recital,” Janik said. “Sparkly costumes and bright lights.” Reserved seating tickets are sold for the show.
For people interested in recreational ice time, the Center offers public skating times, including adult skate on Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri., 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., $3 or $2 for seniors. For people who love to watch figure skating, the Center has discount-rate tickets to Disney on Ice “Dare to Dream” on Fri., Jan. 26 at the Allstate Arena; contact Janik, 773-840-4622, for information.
Janik has been skating since she was 3, and started coaching when she was 18. She was the Figure Skating Manager at McFetridge Park.
The Morgan Park Yoga and Fitness Studio currently offers classes in yoga, Pilates, barre, Tabata, Zumba, cardio sculpt and core. According to Assistant Fitness Director Brenna Joyce, classes are regularly updated based on what people want. Participation is offered through unlimited 1 and 2 month memberships as well as drop-in visits. Seniors get a 50% discount.
Classes are offered for a wide range of ages and skill levels. Mommy and Me yoga is open to children as young as 18 months and Fit Beginnings classes are designed for seniors and people with mobility problems or who are new to fitness regimens. Kids Yoga is offered in two age groups, 4 to 8 and 9 to 13. The Studio also offers workshops.
Joyce is certified in group fitness, personal training and yoga, and has been teaching fitness classes for ten years.
The Gymnastics Center accommodates a wide range of recreational classes for kids who just want to learn gymnastics, and progression-based skill-building classes for kids who want to compete in the Center’s busy USA Gymnastics (USAG) competition schedule. The program is guided by Gymnastics Coordinator Tammy Findlay who has a staff of 20 coaches. There is also a foam pit and slots for open gym.
Baby Gym offers free play for children age 9 to 18 months, and classes range up through age and skill levels. Girls’ gymnastics training includes balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise and vault. Boys’ gymnastics includes tumbling, high bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, vault and rings.
Findlay is serious about providing a top quality gymnastics program at Morgan Park Sports Center. She came up through the YMCA system, competing followed by coaching. She has been a Chicago Park District coach for many years, and developed the Center’s gymnastics program.
The Morgan Park Sports Center offers skate rental, a concession stand, party rooms, and the ice rink is available to rent. To find out more, stop by or call 773-840-4622.