The SunUte Community Center in Ignacio will offer free admission throughout the week, starting Monday, in celebration of its 15-year anniversary.
Community members can challenge staff members in a series of athletic games including kickball, flag football, indoor hockey and dodgeball Monday through Thursday, and attend a Friday ceremony honoring those who made the exercise and recreation facility a reality 15 years ago.
“A longtime ago, we had a swimming pool and community, tribal-based programs, but when those were torn down to make room for the (Sky Ute) Casino, there was no place for youth to go,” said Ian Thompson, the facility’s incoming director. “It was an uphill battle to get this built and give kids a place to go with a focus on health for the tribal membership, but it was finally pushed through and funded.”
Since it was built, the facility has been a hub for community and youth sporting events, and a recreational hangout for kids. Thompson said membership, which has grown to about 1,200 and includes both Southern Ute tribal and nontribal members, takes pride and ownership in the tribe-funded facility, and it shows:
“Bayfield and Ignacio schools and the tribal academy come in and take swimming lessons,” Thompson said. “A few weeks ago, a 10-year SunUte member came in and noticed some of the kids didn’t have goggles, so he bought 20 or 30 pairs and gave them to the aquatics director for the kids to pick out.”
Refreshments and prizes, including memberships, will be given out each day next week.
At noon on Friday, employees will recognize the facility’s founders and earliest supporters as well as unveil future plans, programming and upcoming changes for the center, including a change in membership pricing effective Jan. 1.
“It’s grown into something everyone uses and is really proud of,” Thompson said. “Tribal and nontribal members alike have made it an amazing place to go.”
For more information about next week’s events,visit www.sunute.com.