By: Sherry Aschenbach, 2020 Patricia Jackson Howard Scholarship Recipient
Home to picnics, sports, and community entertainment since 1890, Wildwood…now Weracoba Park, matters not only to the city of Columbus but to me. From the very beginning of its establishment the park has always brought citizens of the community together, from its lake to its dance pavilion. Purchased by the city in 1924 for school placement and the lake drained in 1926 the park became what is familiarly known as Lakebottom. Although the park has gone through many changes and renovations over the years it still holds a centerpiece of importance in our city.
Weracoba Park at Lakebottom has been a central place of activity for me since I was very young. My parents would bring me to the playground to play on the weekends or to enjoy a family picnic. During my elementary and middle school years I participated with the “Tennis Works in the Park” program that was held at the tennis courts. While at Columbus High School my freshman through junior year, I spent an immense amount of my time at Lakebottom. I would socially spend time at the park with friends before and after school as well as attending other Columbus High hosted sports events. It was my place of training all year round. Cross country practices in the fall consisted of my daily exploration of the running trail. During the spring it was my place to practice and play tennis on both JV and varsity teams for Columbus High.
As mentioned previously, Weracoba park has always been a part of my life, but it came particularly important all throughout my high school years. In addition to participating and practicing multiple sports there I also developed a love for giving back to the community. The Tennis Works program that I was once a student of, blossomed the beginning of my volunteer service through my sport. After obtaining a certain level of skill, I was invited to become a volunteer coach for the program. What really made me fall in love with the program was that it was created to spread tennis to any child that was interested, regardless of financial ability. Any equipment or snacks was always provided for the kids and welcomed anymore interested. I enjoyed working with Tennis Works from the very beginning and continued to volunteer throughout high school whenever possible. Being a volunteer at this event exposed me to many other service opportunities such as Ad-in/Special Olympics and the S.T.A.R. (Students Together Achieving Results) program. Lakebottom was the birthplace of my drive for helping others through what I love and I will forever be grateful.
Weracoba park at Lakebottom will continue to matter to me in the future. My proposed major is exercise science and kinesiology. I will also be playing on the Berry College tennis team. Both of these endeavors will require me to utilize the park whenever I am home to continue to develop my skill set and training. In my future career I hope to use Lakebottom as a key component to help train my future clientele. I am very lucky to have grown up in Columbus where this recreational park was available to me. It formed and shaped many disciplines in my life that I will carry with me forever.