After Tom finished his PhD at the University of Michigan, his job offers meant we had to choose between four different cities in which to live: Washington D.C.; Rockville, MD; Buffalo, NY; and College Station, TX. We chose College Stations for a number of reasons, however "fun and interesting stuff to do" was not one of them.
With a population of approximately 100,000 people, College Station is relatively small. (With a combined population of 185,000, College Station and sister city Bryan combine to form a slighter bigger - but not "large" - metropolitan area.) And while College Station is situated reasonably close to Houston, Austin, and Dallas, when we first moved here neither Tom or I had any interest in driving 3+ hours round trip for a concert, shopping trip, or meal. I almost never had to leave my city in search of entertainment, goods, or food growing up, so I found it crazy that College Station residents drove more than an hour for a show, to grocery shop, or for BBQ ribs. After a couple of years here, however, we came to understand College Station's lack of certain activities and amenities...and now we too will drive an hour to shop at Trader Joe's or for a good disc golf course. (That one's Tom, of course.)
All that said, things "'round these here parts" have begun to change. For the last decade the College Station population has grown at a record pace, and now the rest of College Station has begun to catch up. We've added restaurants of all kinds, quite a few boutique shopping options, and a handful of youth (and adult) entertainment venues. We're still missing a few of my favorites - Trader Joe's, Rocky Rococo's Pizza, Bruegger's Bagels, Loft, Home Goods, a second-run movie theater, a zoo, a miniature golf course, safer and more interesting biking trails, and an indoor soccer facility - but since we moved here 6+ years ago, College Station has gradually become a much more fun and intersting place to live.
While reading over my shoulder, Will asked me to add that he desperately wants a Denny's.
Speaking of soccer and on the topic of new, fun, and interesting in College Station, earlier this month the Brazos Valley became home to a Professional Development League (PDL) soccer team. The Brazos Valley Cavalry FC - which funnels up to the Houston Dynamo Major League Soccer team - arrived and brought with it a commitment to and an excitement surrounding soccer that we haven't previously seen in our small corner of Texas. The PDL team plays its home games locally, in the newly-renovated Nutrabolt stadium (also home to the Brazos Valley Bombers minor league baseball team and now updated to accommodate soccer games as well). For (three of) the four Ferri, a PDL soccer team makes our community an even better place to live, especially considering that this fall, Will will play for the brand new competitive youth soccer club supported by the larger Cavalry FC.
|Hallie and Friday the Horse. |
|Her goal is to take a picture with him at every |
game she attends. Thus far we're two for two!
|Soccer under the lights! (For those of you having trouble visualizing how |
a soccer field fits on a baseball field, one soccer end line and goal are along
the baseball third base line and the other end line and goal are in right field.)
|Will "working" ball crew on opening night. He took his job very|
seriously, was extremely enthusiastic and encouraging to the players, and
celebrated like he was watching the Olympics when the Cavalry scored.
|Soaking wet and exhilarated after a rainy first game.|
Lately Will hasn't given me real smiles in pictures.
These soccer games and this new club have brought
out such joy in him and you can see it on his face.
|Heading onto the field for halftime announcements. |
That smile...makes my mama heart happy.
|Waiting to welcome the team back to the field. |
|Post game group photo: Cavalry FC PDL players and Cavalry |
FC Youth players. (Will's front left in ball crew orange.)
In certain circumstances, community growth can bring challenges: more traffic, less parking, an increased cost of living, an increase in crime, and a loss of the hospitality and close-knit relationships often associated with small towns. But community growth can also bring benefits: more job opportunities, more academic and athletic opportunities, increased diversity, improved health care, more parks and improved outdoor spaces, and, in this case, more and improved opportunities for good, clean, family fun.
Our area's growth - and the Cavalry's arrival - has made the Brazos Valley an even more desirable place for us to live. Looks like we're sticking around...
I'm giving away three sets of two tickets to July Cavalry FC games! Comment here or on Facebook - under one of the feeds associated with this post - to be entered in the drawing. Winners will be chosen on Friday, June 16th and notified on Saturday, June 17th. (I will do my very best to pair winners with tickets that work with their schedules.)
If you live in the Brazos Valley area and would like to join the four Ferri at a June Cavalry game, email me at email@example.com!