Columbia SportsPark: Where Community Happens
It’s not easy dressing skeletons — but Columbia SportsPark General Manager Belinda Bryant welcomes the challenge. In fact, it’s one of her favorite things to do in preparation for CA’s annual Trunk or Treat event.
“I love coming up with new decorations to keep people on their toes each year,” she says. “We keep it family-friendly, but still spooky.”
Trunk or Treat started when Belinda was looking for a fun, safe way to bring the community together during the pandemic. She wanted to do something that was festive and totally free, so she put out an open invite for people to decorate their cars and park at the SportsPark to hand out treats.
Now in its third year, Trunk or Treat is a beloved annual tradition — and testament to Belinda’s dedication to going above and beyond to serve the community.
Making community happen
With an 18-hole mini golf course, 10 batting cages, a playground and more, the SportsPark is a place where people of all ages come to have fun. Belinda takes pride in providing an outlet for recreation, but her sense of purpose runs even deeper. With the belief that each of CA’s spaces is an opportunity to create and strengthen community, she’s always coming up with creative ways to welcome new faces to the SportsPark.
“At the SportsPark, we’re honored to host lots of events for different groups, from schools to nonprofit organizations,” she says. “I try to be as intentional as possible about serving the people attending and asking, ‘What makes sense to the needs of those communities?’”
One prime example is last year’s Trunk or Treat event. With the desire to help kids bring home more than just candy, Belinda spent all year collecting children’s books on her own time and ended up giving away a free book (more than 800 total) to every child who attended. Her next goal is to give away 1,000 free books.
Belinda also sees Trunk or Treat as a great opportunity to connect families with community resources that they may not be aware of. This year, she’s thrilled that more than 15 community partners are joining the festivities.
“Trunk or Treat may be hosted here at the SportsPark, but so many different teams at CA are involved in helping to make it a success,” she says. “From the fitness clubs planning a monster obstacle course to our Community Engagement Manager coordinating with our partners, it’s a team effort. The Open Space crew is even coming in on their day off to make sure the SportsPark is in perfect condition to welcome everyone.”
Beyond launching Trunk or Treat, Belinda’s drive to deepen community impact has resulted in lots of exciting “firsts” for the SportsPark. This past spring, the SportsPark welcomed hundreds of families from the Muslim Family Center to celebrate Eid Mubarak, a Muslim holiday.
“It was amazing to see families enjoying mini golf, batting cages, a hands-on reptile exhibit, moon bounces, food trucks and outdoor games. Most of all, it was a celebration together, and we were honored to host this important event for our Muslim community,” she says.
The SportsPark was also proud to host the first-ever CA Points celebration this past spring. CA Points is a program that allows students to earn their family a CA membership through their performance and attendance at school. In collaboration with teams across CA, the SportsPark team put in lots of hard work to pull off a fun event celebrating the students’ efforts and giving the families a chance to play in a relaxed setting together.
Another recent highlight? Midnight Mini-Golf, an event series that Belinda was inspired to create to give people over 21 in Columbia and the surrounding areas something fun and different to do. This event went viral on Instagram this summer (76, 292 likes and counting!). On select Friday nights, the SportsPark welcomes people ages 21 and up to enjoy unlimited mini golf and various other activities, including corn hole, badminton, frisbee golf, Jenga, darts, Uno and more.
“It makes me so happy to see adults of all ages come to Midnight Mini-Golf with their friends or for a unique date night. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to help make community happen here at the SportsPark.” -Belinda Bryant