Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Top young golfers from all over the world playing in the Valley

The field included players from 23 states, along with Canada, Russia, and China.

“Anytime you can bring in the world’s best juniors, it’s pretty solid, especially here in the Mahoning Valley,” said Brian Tolnar, Director of Golf at Mill Creek Metro Parks. “Your last three U.S. Open champions have won right here on the AGJA, the one that won this past week, Brooks Koepka. He won it in 2005 and won 14 events on the AGJA total.”

This is one of 14 similar tournaments around the country, and the Youngstown area fits the event’s needs.

“It’s a terrific venue. It’s highly ranked, 26th golf course municipal in the United States. It’s overall a great experience for our players, we have great feedback from them, and obviously, it’s mutual between the two of us,” said Ryan Flanigan, Midwest Regional Director of the AGJA.

This year’s field includes two local golfers, including Cardinal Mooney’s Jayne Bernard and Brookfield’s Connor Stevens.

“It means a lot, knowing that kids from the area really want to golf. They don’t think it’s cool,” said Stevens. “Hopefully some younger kids see what our golf team did last year, and they’ll come out and play.”

This is the second year the Metro Parks has hosted this event, and it’s brought in more than $500,000 economically.

“It means to Metro an opportunity to showcase what we got here at Metro Park’s golf course. It means more for the community than it does the golf course,” said Aaron Young, Executive Director of the Metro Parks. “Because the economic impact to the region last year was over $250,000, expect to see the same thing this year. It’s an impact for everyone and an opportunity to showcase the Valley.”

View the full article at wfmj.com

McGee links AJGA, success

As former PGA pro and East Palestine resident Jerry McGee perused the list of Sunday’s U.S. Open final results, there was one fact about each player that became pretty obvious to him.

“I went down the entire U.S. Open list and couldn’t find a player that didn’t go through the AJGA [American Junior Golf Association],” McGee said during Monday’s practice round at Mill Creek Golf Course. “The same holds true for those on the women’s tour.”

The AJGA is hosting the Mill Creek Foundation Junior All-Star tournament this week at Mill Creek’s South Course with McGee serving as honorary guest host.

It’s the second straight year that the tournament for 12-15 year-olds has been at Mill Creek with boys and girls winners advancing to the Junior All-Star Invitational this fall at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga.

“This is by far the most fantastic group for junior golf,” said McGee of East Palestine. “The tournaments that they have, it’s simply the PGA Junior Tour.

“I had never been to an AJGA event until last year, but walked away most impressed with the level of play and how the kids handled themselves both on and off the course,” McGee said. “My clubs are obsolete compared to the ones that they are using.”

Two local entries, Jayne Bernard, a freshman at Cardinal Mooney High School and Conner Stevens, a sophomore at Brookfield High School, were among the 96 boys and girls taking advantage of the practice round. Twenty-three states and three foreign countries (Canada, China and Russia) are represented.

Bernard enters AJGA play on the heels of winning Friday’s Greatest Golfer qualifying event at Tam O’Shanter Golf Course in Hermitage, Pa.

She says that if there’s an advantage, albeit an ever so slight one, it’s that Mill Creek is her home course.

“The goal is to get better and just have fun,” Bernard said. “It’s a very talented field and while I’m a bit nervous, the fact that this is my home course should help.

“I feel like I know the greens better and have a little more knowledge overall about the course,” she said. “This is one of the most competitive fields that I will ever play in so I want to do my very best.”

Stevens said participating in the Greatest Golfer the past three years and taking part in some other highly competitive tournaments has prepared him for this year’s AJGA.

“I know about 10 of the golfers in this year’s event and all are excellent players,” Stevens said. “The goal is always to win, but the field is quite competitive.”

Max Moldovan is the defending boys champion and at 15 years of age, was an alternate for this year’s U.S. Open.

The Green High School student said he’s looking forward to defending his title.

“If I play like I did last year, then I feel like I’ll have a pretty good chance of defending my title,” Moldovan said. “I love the course because there are a lot of scoring opportunities.”

Ryan Flanagan, AJGA regional director, credits Brian Tolnar, Mill Creek’s PGA Director of Golf, as the driving force behind bringing AJGA to the Mahoning Valley.

“Brian was previously involved with AJGA when he was at Blue Heron Hills Golf Club in New York,” Flanagan said. “He really wanted us to come to Youngstown and I can see why because Mill Creek Park is a fantastic setting.

He was the vision behind this three years ago and between Brian, his staff and the many volunteers, it has been a great association.”

Tolnar, a Hubbard native, said that his goal when hired in 2015 was to make a major difference in the local community.

“Hosting a national event that makes a substantial financial impact to the Mahoning Valley, and makes the Mill Creek MetroParks accessible to families all over the world, is something that we’re really proud of,” Tolnar said. “The financial support of the Mill Creek Foundation, Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation and the 200+ volunteers have helped us bring over a half million dollars to the area over the past two years.

“It’s something we can’t thank them enough for with our goal heading forward to bring many more events like this to the Mahoning Valley.”

Mike Senchak serves as president and CEO of the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation.

“At the foundation we are always looking for health initiatives and what better initiative than the AJGA and the youth that are playing in this tournament,” Senchak said. It’s a great event, not only for our youth but the entire community so kudos to Brian Tolnar and his staff for the outstanding job that they have done.”

Andy Detesco serves as Mill Creek Foundation chairman.

“As we showcase Mill Creek Park to those from other states, it’s a true recognition of the high level of golf that is played in the Mahoning Valley,” Detesco said.

One out-of-state player is 12 year-old Bailey Shoemaker of Cooperstown, N.Y., who is playing in her third AJGA event.

“I actually played a round yesterday, but got called in on the 16th hole when it started to rain,” she said. “The course is similar to the Beth Page Black Golf Course in New York City, so I feel like that will help me out.”

Opening-round play begins today on the South Course from 7 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. with a cookout and social slated from noon until 5 p.m.

Second round action is set for Wednesday (7 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.) with the final round slated for Thursday, also from 7 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. An awards presentation will follow.

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Mill Creek to host junior tournament

The American Junior Golf Association will host the Mill Creek Foundation Junior All-Star tournament from Monday through Thursday at Mill Creek Park Golf Course.

The tournament is comprised of 96 boys and girls ages 12-15. Golfers from 23 states and three foreign countries (Canada, China and Russia) will compete.

The event will take place on the South Course.

A practice round will be held Monday at 8 a.m. with the first round beginning Tuesday at 7 a.m.

Second-round play will be Wednesday and the final round will be Thursday, both taking place at 7 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held Thursday at 5 p.m.

This is the second consecutive year Mill Creek Golf Course is hosting the event.

“We can bring $500,000 to the Mahoning Valley in just two years,” said Brian Tolnar, PGA Director of Golf at Mill Creek MetroParks. “Last year, we brought in around $255,000.” 

The above figures are curated from expense reports for hotels, meals and other costs from the families of the participating golfers that they submit to the AJGA.

Area hotels, restaurants and other businesses will also send data to the Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Former PGA pro Jerry McGee of East Palestine will serve as the tournament’s honorary guest host.

McGee, a New Lexington native, played on the PGA Tour from 1967 to 1981. He was a member of the 1977 Ryder Cup team. He was the former pro at Oak Tree Country Club in Middlesex, Pa. His son, Mike, is married to Annika Sorenstram.

“He’s one of those guys I’ve come to know from being in the golf business,” Tolnar said Saturday. “He’s got a passion for youth sports and working with younger golfers.”

Three AJGA champions are participating in what will be one of 16 American College Development Solutions events this year on the Junior All-Star Series which concludes at Reynolds Lake Oconee for the Justin Rose Junior All-Star Invitational.

Locally, Conner Stevens from Brookfield and Jayne Bernard from Youngstown will compete in the tournament among 17 Ohio golfers.

Other Ohio golfers include Benjamin Basta (Hudson), Kahmar Byers (Columbus), Zach Hazard (Olmsted Falls), Ali Khan (Westerville), Colton Levey (Twinsburg), Maxwell Moldovan (Uniontown), Donovan Morris (Northfield Center), Joshua Qian (Westerville), Topher Reed (Fairview Park), Michael Shyu (Grove City), Mason Witt (Jamestown), Ashley Zi-Tong Au (Westerville), Leila Raines (Galena), Natalia Sompolovorachai (West Chester) and Madison Spiess (New Albany).

Moldovan won the event at Mill Creek last year and will look to defend his title against a field of 65 boys.

View the full article at vindy,com

Dandelion knowledge blows into Sprout Club at Fellows

Children at the monthly Sprout Club program met on May 18 at Fellows Riverside Gardens to learn about dandelions.

Lynn Zocolo, horticulture educator, teaches the children each month about a different part of the environment. This month the children got hands-on with dandelions and the different parts.

The program started out with a coloring sheet for children to color until everyone came and the lesson could begin. Zocolo taught the children about the different parts of a dandelion and then passed those parts out for the children to look at and feel.

The children had the opportunity to examine the stem, the leaves, the flower and the seeds.

Zocolo also informed the children that parts of the dandelions are safe to eat, but only after asking an adult.

Many people associate blowing the dandelion seeds with making a wish, so the children made their own wish necklaces.

They were given ribbon, a container on the ribber, dandelion seeds and an acorn top as the lid.

There was a tag on the necklace that said “Some see a weed, I see a wish.” The children were supposed to make a wish as they put the seeds into the container.

After making the necklaces, the children tried blowing bubbles with the hollow stem. There was an experiment to see if bubbles or water mixed with soap created the best bubbles. In the end, the soap mixture produced the most and biggest bubbles.

Sprout Club educations children in a hands-on way that gives them the opportunity to have fun while doing it.

Anyone interested in signing up for Sprout Club can visit www.millcreekmetroparks.org for more information.

View the full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks to offer new recreation & sports camps

Mill Creek MetroParks has a new addition to its summer program lineup.

Next week, the park will offer a three-day youth recreation and sports camp for children age 6 to 15. It’s the first multi-sport camp the MetroParks has offered.

The program at Wick Recreation Area will give participants a chance to try a wide range of sports, including baseball, softball, volleyball, golf and tennis. Additionally, the camp will feature a nature education component during which campers will go on hikes in the park and learn about the areas surrounding the recreation area.

“We tried to design a camp that encompassed all the sports currently held at Wick,” said Brian Tolnar, MetroParks golf director.

The camp runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through June 16. During those hours, campers will participate in hour- to hour-and-a-half-long sessions focusing on those sports.

The goal, Tolnar said, is twofold: Give kids the chance to try out sports that they might want to continue playing in the future, and draw new members to the sports leagues the MetroParks offers at Wick.

“We just want to showcase Wick and everything we have up there,” he said. “We wanted to really start taking advantage of the Wick Recreation Area and really trying to draw from that section of town, to grow our golf leagues and Little League baseball leagues.”

The sessions will be led by MetroParks staff members and community volunteers, including coaches from local high-school teams.

Registration is open through Tuesday. The cost is $39 per person. To register, call the Wick Par-3 pro shop at 330-740-7114 or Ford Nature Center at 330-740-7107.

Tolnar encouraged parents to sign up their children. “We just think it’s a great, interactive camp that will give the kids a vast knowledge of all these different sports to see if it sparks an interest,” he said.

Read the full article at vindy.com

Looking to keep your kids busy this summer? Here are some options

Mill Creek Park and the Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County have programs that will help your kids stay active

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many kids across the Valley are now on summer break, and that means many parents are looking for ways to keep them busy.

Mill Creek Park and the Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County have a few free programs that will help your kids stay active this summer.

“A lot of kids, over the summer, they are not in classes. They are not working with their reading, and sometimes, that makes them slide backward,” said Cindy Beach, ‎assistant manager of Programming and Youth Services Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

Mary Ault said her grandchildren spend a lot of time at the library.

“There’s a lot of different summer programs for them there that they keep them busy with,” she said.

Ault said it helps them keep up with their reading through the summer.

The library has DVD’s, CDs and even audio books, but it also has a lot of programs planned for kids and families this summer.

“We have COSI coming. We have the Whiz Bang Science Show,” Beach said.

If you like animals, the library will also have ponies and a penguin in for different programs this summer.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much we have available for them at the library,” Beach said.

You can find information on obtaining a free library card on the library’s website.

If you’re looking for programs to get the kids outside, Mill Creek Park also has a lot scheduled during the summer.

“We have our Family Fun Fridays. Those are at Fellows Riverside Gardens, and that’s every Friday throughout the summer, and you can go in and explore the family garden. There’s a different theme each week,” said Jaime Yohman, marketing manager for the Mill Creek MetroParks.

The park’s newest attraction is now up and running.

“Our wet playground is now open at our Wick Recreation area. That is open seven days a week, from noon to 5 p.m., so on these hot summer days, please go out and enjoy our beautiful new wet playground,” Yohman said,

Mill Creek has a brand new event coming up this summer.

On Father’s Day, there will be an event featuring antique cars, old toys from the past and crafts. You can even churn your own ice cream.

Visit the library’s website for a calendar of scheduled events and information on special events.

Mill Creek MetroParks also has a calendar of events online. 

WKBN also compiled a list of local summer events and festivals. You can find that here. 

Mill Creek Park to offer youth recreational and sports camp

During the second week of June, Mill Creek MetroParks will offer its first ever Youth Recreational & Sports Camp at the Wick Recreation Area.  

It is open to kids between the age of 6 and 15.  No experience in sports is required to participate.  

Each day instructors and coaches will be teaching kids the fundamentals of golf, volleyball, tennis and baseball.  

Kids will also be going on hikes through Mill Creek to learn about nature and the history of the park.

“You can be a beginner in any of those sports. We just want to be able to play a myriad of sports that sort of encompass the Wick Recreation area because of all it has to offer,” said PGA Director Brian Tolnar with Mill Creek Park.

The camp will take place June 14, 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Children can sign up at the Mill Creek Field House, the Wick Park 3 Golf Shop or the Ford Nature Center.  The cost is $39.99 per child.  Lunch is not included.   

Click to view this full article on wfmj.com

MetroParks offers adaptive tennis for people with disabilities

Kevin Glines lifted his arms above his head, signaling victory.

He had just sent a tennis ball sailing smoothly over the net with one swift hit.

Glines, 37, of Boardman is trying out the sport for the first time thanks to a new program offered by Mill Creek MetroParks in partnership with the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio. The free, four-week program offers adaptive tennis lessons to people with permanent physical disabilities. It marks the first adaptive program the MetroParks has offered, said programs and events coordinator Cara Hahn.

“The park as a whole wants to offer more to people of all abilities, all ages, all sexes, everything,” she said.

The adaptive tennis program is a first that park officials hope to build on in the future.

“This is hopefully just the start of what the MetroParks is going to bring,” Hahn said.

During the twice-a-week sessions, an Adaptive Sports instructor teaches participants the basics of tennis. At a recent session, players practiced techniques for serving the ball.

Liston Spann of Youngstown said he never would have imagined himself playing tennis, but was “most definitely” having fun learning it.

Glines spoke excitedly about the program, saying, “It’s really cool.”

“It is really fun,” he said. “It’s tough, but it’s fun.”

His mother, Meg Glines, said the program opened up an opportunity that’s not readily available to adults with disabilities in this area.

“For the age group out of high school, there’s not a lot,” she said. “So this opens up a whole new world of learning the sports. And the socialization is wonderful.”

She said her son loves sports, but has limited access to them.

“We’re thrilled to have this available,” she said.

The last session is at 6 p.m. Wednesday with plans to continue the program in the future.

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MetroParks officials cut ribbon on new wet playground

A group of children clustered near the orange ribbon, waiting eagerly for it to be cut.

Once the photo opportunity ended and the ceremonial ribbon had been cut, the group raced past into the play area.

They wanted to be the first ones to use Mill Creek MetroParks’ new wet playground at the James L. Wick Jr. Wick Recreation Area.

A group of MetroParks staff and leaders, community members and people involved in building the playground gathered Friday at the Juliana Kurinka Children’s Play Area to open it to park visitors.

“Our hope is that this wet playground will continue to introduce children to both discovery and conversation,” said Aaron Youngstown, MetroParks executive director.

Parents who stopped by the event were confident their children would have plenty of opportunities for that.

“It adds another dimension to the park that we already love,” said Angela Metzger of Youngstown, who was there with her two children. “It’ll definitely be fun for them.”

Mary Beth Miller also is a frequent park visitor with her kids.

“I’m sure we’ll be here a lot playing,” she said. “They love getting wet any chance they get. And for me it’s easier than watching them at the pool.”

The addition of a wet play area has been several years in the making.

Steve Avery, planning and operations director, detailed the history of Wick Recreation Area, the land for which the park acquired in the 1940s. The play area and a spray basin were constructed in 1956.

The spray basin was removed when the MetroParks revamped the play area, with work on three other components completed several years ago.

MetroParks officials credited supporters such as the Juliana Kurinka Trust, Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association, Fitness Together 5K, Mill Creek Park Foundation, and Green Cathedral Half Marathon with helping to make the project happen. The wet playground was designed by McCue Design Group and built by Daniel A. Terreri & Sons Inc.

Avery highlighted some of the playground’s features, which are designed to be interactive. One area is designed specifically for younger children, while the other side’s more-active features are meant for older kids. The water sequences are activated by a button in the center of the playground.

The wet play area is open from noon to 5 p.m. daily.

Click to view this full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks to open new wet playground in time for Memorial Day weekend

Mill Creek MetroParks will kick off Memorial Day weekend by opening a new area for its visitors.

Park officials, community leaders and people involved in the project will gather at the James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Area off McCollum Road at 2 p.m. today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that marks the grand opening of a wet playground at the Juliana Kurinka Children’s Play Area.

“It’s going to be exciting. It’ll be that regional draw that we want the Wick Recreation Area to be,” said Justin Rogers, MetroParks planning manager. “It provides families with another opportunity to experience Mill Creek MetroParks, and we’re looking forward to having a really fun, exciting summer at the play area.”

Work began in April on the $80,079 project. The contract was awarded to Daniel A. Terreri & Sons.

The addition of the wet playground caps off a plan developed several years ago to renovate the children’s play area. Three other parts of the playground previously were completed. The play area featured a wet-play component for many years, but that was removed when work began to revamp the area.

“The original playground featured a concrete basin with four sprays and was very popular,” Rogers said. “The introduction of the wet playground is more interactive. There are features for different ages. It brings colors and excitement to the playground, and really fits in nicely with the scale of the other three components of the play area.”

The project is part of the $29 million capital-improvements plan the MetroParks is undertaking over the next 15 years, with $3.2 million of that slated to take place this year.

Representatives of the companies involved in the project, park board members, Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr., Mayor John A. McNally, city Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, members of the park foundation, past park board members, the owner of Fitness Together, and a representative of the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association are invited to participate in today’s event.

– See more at: vindy.com