Tag Archives: Tracy Stratman

Disc Drive

April 15, 2015 by

Originally published in April 2015 HerFamily.

A co-worker’s zeal for disc golf inspired Mandi and Adam Jensen to give the sport a try, and only a year later, they’ve become enthusiasts themselves and even brought sons Maverick and Ryker and daughter Phoenix into the fold.

“It really is a good sport for families,” Mandi Jensen says. “We have three kids, and our youngest is 6 and our oldest is 12, so they’re not interested in many of the same things.” But when the family plays disc golf, “we’re all together and we’re all having fun.”

All it takes to play disc golf is a flying disc—known by many as a Frisbee, the Wham-O toy company’s registered trademark name—and a visit to one of Omaha’s three disc golf courses; Seymour Smith Park (68th and Harrison streets), Hummel Park (north of the Florence area off John J. Pershing Drive) or Cunningham Park (northwest of 84th and State streets). The rules are simple: Whether playing a 9-hole or 18-hole course, the basic objective is to land the disc in the disc pole hole or “basket” in as few throws as possible.

“The disc golf that we have at three locations in our parks in Omaha is a park amenity open to the public. There’s no charge, so you can just walk on and get in at any time,” says Tracy Stratman, recreation manager for the City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property department.

An ongoing partnership with the Omaha Metro Disc Golf Association (OMDGA) has helped to establish and expand facilities in the community since the mid-1990s, and volunteers from the group continue to support upkeep and invest plenty of sweat equity in maintenance year-round.

“From the City side, this is what makes our partnerships work and our parks successful. If somebody comes to us with an idea of an amenity that they want to see in a park, we work very hard with those groups to try and make it a reality,” Stratman says. “The parks are public spaces for the people and so we take our partnerships very seriously, because we can’t do it alone.”

The Hummel Park course, which OMDGA helped design, is considered by players to be the most challenging in the area and has even gained national recognition.

“Hummel is indeed getting such a solid rep,” says Bill (“Mr. Bill”) Hulbert of the OMDGA, “I’ve played with so many people from out of town that, after one round, are putting it on their list of favorites. It’s got everything: it’s not extremely long, and it has signature holes that you have to put it in a certain place on your first shot or you’re hosed.”

The OMDGA has been hosting the disc golf competition for the Cornhusker State Games (now the State Games of America) since 1994 and this August, for the first time, will be hosting the 2015 State Games of America national disc golf events at Hummel and at least one other course.

Hulbert still remembers buying his first disc at the age of 7, saving his 15-cent allowance for four weeks to buy a 49-cent “Pluto Platter.” A founding member of the first Omaha-area disc golf club and a 2013 Nebraska Disc Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Hulbert says he’s enjoyed watching the sport grow locally from a single course and a small following to a thriving activity and community known for its open arms.

“The community of disc golf people is really welcoming,” Jensen says. “They’re more friendly than you can imagine.”


Breaking the Ice

February 11, 2015 by

For many area families, summer doesn’t really begin until Omaha’s 15 outdoor public pools open for the season, and the closing date is a sad reminder that swimming has ended for another year. But even on the coldest of winter days, families can still satisfy their longing to get in the water by visiting any of the city’s indoor pool facilities.

“They are open, public facilities so anyone who pays the admittance fee and follows the rules is allowed to use them,” says Tracy Stratman, recreation manager for the City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property department. “Those indoor pools are so valuable because our summers are so short. I think they’re like hidden gems in the city.”

Full-size, 25-meter indoor pools are housed at Mockingbird Hills Community Center at 10242 Mockingbird Drive and Montclair Community Center at 2304 S. 135th Avenue. Common Ground at 1701 Veterans Dr. in Elkhorn became part of the Omaha indoor pool facility group several years ago after Elkhorn was annexed, but it is a membership-based facility.

“Montclair and Mockingbird are not membership-based like Common Ground, so you do not have to be a member, it’s a pay-as-you go. We do have punch cards and seasonal passes, which obviously drop the (per visit) cost,” Stratman explains.

“Swimming really is a life skill,” Stratman says. “Swimming is one of those sports or activities that really hits all ages and all abilities. Even if you’re recovering from an injury or are an older adult, there’s always something you can do in the pool. But there’s also a level of competition if you’re a seasoned lap swimmer or even a competitive swimmer.”

Krista Andress, an Omaha mom with sons ages 13 and 11, says her family has enjoyed swimming at both the Mockingbird and Montclair facilities and that she researched Omaha’s recreational centers online before moving here from Colorado a few years ago.

“We’re a recreational family. We like to take advantage of community rec centers,” she says, adding that she and her husband actually met while working at such a facility in another community. “Swimming is great exercise and swimming at a community center pool is really a great family activity.”

The former lifeguard adds, “I’m a big advocate that everyone should learn how to swim.”

Swimming lessons are available through the City of Omaha for all ages, starting with Float for Life at nine months through group lessons for children and older youth, Stratman says. Adults or children can also sign up for private instruction.

“As a parent, I think this is the perfect time for swim lessons because there’s not that rush to get them comfortable in the water before the season starts,” Stratman says.

Drop-in admission fees for Montclair are only $4 for adults and $3 for youth and seniors, and kids under age 2 are admitted free. Special reduced admission periods and designated open recreational swimming hours—as well as lap swimming hours, exercise classes and lessons—are posted on the City of Omaha website at www.cityofomaha.org/parks.