Written by Julia Rodriquez, Managing Editor
The end of the semester is quickly approaching, and athletic opportunities on campus are becoming less frequent. However, there are still plenty of things to do outside to stay active this summer.
Many of the activities hosted by VSU during the fall and spring semesters are free or at a discounted price, but the free fun doesn’t have to go away just because it’s summer. There are a variety of places to play sports and be athletic in the Valdosta area for little to no money.
A day at the park is always an ideal free choice, especially at Freedom Park, where there is much more to do than take a walk. With the proper equipment, anyone can go disk golfing on the free course through the woods. Disk golfing can improve muscle strength, flexibility, endurance and heart health According to Rawhide.org. Similar health benefits can be achieved by playing Frisbee in any of Freedom Park’s open fields.
The park also has multiple sports fields for playing soccer or baseball. For those lacking sports equipment, there is a small track and a trail through the woods for running.
The final amenity provided by Freedom Park is a dog park. The two front sections of the park have training equipment, and owners can get a workout too as they run around with their pets.
McKey Park, which is near north campus, has a track with a large field in the middle. It also features tennis courts, a playground for kids and a sand volleyball court. Another plus is the park is open all night.
Another free athletic opportunity in Valdosta is at the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area. Although Grand Bay may be a regular destination for residents, the walking trail provides a scenic opportunity for running, along with a hefty leg work out up several flights of stairs on the observation tower.
For those with gas in their tank and a few dollars in their pocket, a trip to High Springs, Florida, to go swimming at Blue Springs Park is another option. For $10, visitors can swim and dive in a crystal clear spring, which, according to Fit Day, works the lungs, heart and all muscles of the body.
For those who love water but don’t want to get wet, a shorter drive to Reed Bingham State Park may be the better option. For a $5 entry fee and $10 rental fee, visitors can go kayaking amongst gators on a water trail through the forest. According to LiveStrong.com, kayaking works the back, arms, abs, and even the chest.
Another athletic opportunity at Reed Bingham is hiking. A seven mile trek through the woods, on an uneven trail can, according to goodhiker.com, helps tone the legs, improve cardio-respiratory fitness and provide a chance to get in touch with nature.
Even still, perhaps something more challenging is desired. Providence Canyon state park is roughly a three-hour drive from Valdosta, where visitors can hike a number of different trails for an entry fee of $5. The trails vary in difficulty, ranging from a short, relatively flat trail, to a long trail that warns hikers to bring enough food and water for the trek.
If you will be around campus during the summer, Reams Field, the tennis courts and the front lawn will all still be open.
Whether hiking, running, swimming, or whatever else, there is plenty to do in and around Valdosta. The end of the semester does not mean the end of athletic opportunities, it just means looking to places other than campus and thinking outside the box.