Halstead middle-schoolers take aim at new activity

Tess Williams sails a disc into a target as Katharine Engel looks on. The girls agreed disc golf is a fun activity to do with friends.

By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—It was quite the blustery afternoon on Tuesday, but that didn’t stop students in Brenda Radke’s Lifetime Fitness class from putting the new disc golf course at Halstead Middle School to good use.

Several students who just recently were introduced to the sport said they’ve come to enjoy it.

“I didn’t know what to think at first, but now I think it’s fun to do, especially with friends,” seventh grader Tess Williams said.

“I’m not even that good and I think it’s fun,” seventh grader Aaron Learn added.

Eighth grader Jaedon Lynch gives his disc a two-handed toss into the basket at Halstead Middle School’s new disc golf course. He said he enjoys the activity even though he hasn’t had much opportunity to play it, yet.

Eighth grader Jaedon Lynch likewise said he’d never heard of disc golf until the school got a course.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said, even though he added he doesn’t feel like he’s improved much, so far.

“We just kind of randomly throw it,” he said.

The course was installed in early February and so far, Radke has only been able to incorporate it into her Lifetime Fitness class for seventh and eighth graders.

“It’s perfect for this group,” she said. “We usually divide into small groups and we don’t start everybody at hole one. Everyone kind of scatters and wherever they start, they kind of work their way around.”

She added that students could easily get through the entire course during the class period.

“Sometimes, I send them around a second time,” she said.

After spring break next week, Radke plans to begin incorporating disc golf into her P.E. courses for lower grade levels. Each grade level has some discs that students can use at recess, as well, but Radke said teachers have been waiting until students learn it in P.E. before letting kids use them, so they can learn the rules and etiquette.

Students did appear to be getting some good physical activity as they played, with some of them jogging to chase after their discs.

The course starts just south of the middle school parking lot and works its way around the football practice field and the south side high school track before coming back and ending near the start. The holes are labeled as par 3s and Radke said it’s a good course for young beginners.

“They’re pretty straight shots for the most part; not a lot of hazards,” Radke said. “The water back there is a hazard for some.

Keaston Shields, who already has three years of disc golf experience under his belt, lets his disc fly. He said his family usually plays in Hutch or Newton and he’s even participated in a competition in the past.

Funding for the course was provided by a Be The Spark grant, a Halstead Community Foundation grant, and school fundraisers. The school purchased 50 discs, as well as targets for the nine holes and pouring a concrete t-box for each hole. A kiosk with a course map will be added in the coming weeks, Radke added.

Eighth grader Keaston Shields has been playing disc golf for about three years and said he really likes the new course at the middle school.

“My family and I play a lot and typically we have to go to Hutch or Newton, but having one right here is really neat,” he said.

He agreed that the middle school course was easier than some of the others he’s played at.

“Most of the ones in Hutch I feel are a little more difficult because they’re longer and there are more trees,” he said. “This one has shorter holes.”

Shields said he didn’t have any particular strategies when playing.

“My dad’s taught me most of the stuff I know,” he said. “I also like watching the pros on TV.”

In addition to playing during Lifetime Fitness, Shields and his family have been going out after school and using the course. He said he usually scores even par for the course or 1-2 under.

Students can decide for themselves whether to keep score. Coltyn Bethards said he typically does.

“Today, I was just throwing it,” he said. “Holes on the course are par threes and I feel like I can never make it in par three.”

Justin Burgess said he’d had a little bit of experience is disc golf previously and he expressed interest in furthering his skills.

“Maybe if someone played disc golf every single day from when they’re 13, they’ll probably become a pro,” he said.

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