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Let it fly

New disk golf course at Athey Creek Middle School is open to public


TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - When P.E. teacher Chris Berg first introduced disk golf to his Athey Creek students, it was a massive hit. Now, Athey Creek has its own permanent course open to the public.As a physical education teacher at Athey Creek Middle School, Chris Berg knows that he has to keep things fresh.

Basketball, softball and football might be among the most popular sports for kids to play, but that doesn’t mean everyone enjoys them. Berg’s job is to keep everyone involved during class, and that’s why he is always looking for new sports to implement in the curriculum.

Last year, one of those sports was disk golf. At the time, it was just another sport to try out; Berg could never have known that the unit would evolve to a point where the school installed its own permanent disk golf course.

But that’s exactly what happened this spring. The final installations at the course were completed just before spring break this year, and now it is open for free to the public.

“We wanted it to be used not just by our students ... but to be able to open it up to the community outside of school hours,” Berg said. “It’s not a super advanced course obviously, because it’s for middle school players, but it’s a good thing to just come out and throw the disk around.”

It all began during the 2013-14 school year, when Berg first introduced disk golf to the students. “Disk golf is pretty big up here,” Berg said. “We were able to get nine cages (which serve as “holes” in disk golf) and we set those around, made different courses, and all the grades just absolutely loved it. They were really into it, and we had buy in from all the students.”

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Berg enlisted help from the Firefly Disk Golf club to design the course, and is set to teach a disk golf unit later this spring

Even staff members would go out and play a few holes during lunch, and it became clear to Berg that he’d found something special. At the end of the 2013-14 school year, he decided to pursue the installation of a permanent course, and enlisted the Athey Creek PTSA for help.

“Our PTSA is great, they do a lot of fundraising,” Berg said. “So we wrote a grant to see if we could get a nine-hole permanent course set up.”

Once that process was complete, and the course had been cleared by the school’s maintenance and administration staff, the next task was to find professional help in designing the course.

“We contacted many disk golf clubs to help us with designing the course, because we had never done that before,” Berg said. “And it took a long time, we only had one response, but they came out and designed the course and helped us pour the cement and everything. It was fantastic.”

In the end, it was Ryan Gwillian from the local Firefly Disk Golf club who helped design the course, which starts near the front entrance of the school and snakes around the tennis courts before pushing toward the back of the school grounds.

“There’s no tee boxes yet,” Berg said. “That’s kind of our next plan. We wanted to have students play from different areas to see where our best option is to lay them and not throw it over the fence.”

The school still has the nine portable cages that were used before the course installation, which means the course can be stretched up to 18 holes, according to Berg. Later this spring, Berg will teach a disk golf unit with local club players set to stop by and teach the tricks of the trade.

“We’ll get the competitive guys out here to see what (the students) can aspire to, skill-wise,” Berg said. “I’m not that great.”

The course is open for free to the public. For more information, contact bergc@wlwv.k12.or.us.

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Berg knows that not everyone enjoys popular sports like baseball or football, which was why he introduced disk golf to students last year.

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