WPC Senior and Alumnae Team Up Build Futsal Field in Rockwood

Rockwood Snake Court futsal project (Rockwood Initiative photo)Dreams can come true… when you combine vision, hard work, and support.

Community revitalization includes creating safe gathering places for children to play. For Warner Pacific Senior Ricki Ruiz ’16 that meant converting an ad hoc futsal court that was an old roller hockey rink into brand new futsal pitches appropriate for active youth to use.

“As a kid I remember seeing the field locked up. I’m excited to have the space open up to the community so the neighborhood can have a safe place to play,” said Ricki Ruiz, an intern for the City of Gresham. “This location at Vance Park will be for people to engage in a healthy lifestyle while showing off their soccer skills. As a resident of the Rockwood neighborhood, I’m so excited to get out there and play.”

WPC Senior Rick Ruiz and WPC Alum Yesenia Delgado at Snake Court Aug 2015
Ricki and Yesenia

Ricki reached out for help from a fellow Rockwood neighbor, life-long friend, and Warner Pacific Alumnae Yesenia Delgado ’14, program fellow at the nonprofit Active Children Portland (AC Portland).

To confirm they were on the right path with ideas, Ricki sent out a meeting notice over Facebook. Over 30 people showed up to discuss options for the site (known as Snake Court). This gave the duo confidence to take the next steps and Rockwood Initiative was born.

With assistance from the city of Gresham, Multnomah County, Rockwood CDC, and AC Portland, Ricki applied for a grant through the Portland Timbers to improve the site.

In March 2015, the Timbers, through a partnership with Operation Pitch Invasion, announced that Vance Park would be the first of their Fields For All projects.

Fields For All is an organization that identifies ‘recreation deserts,’ or communities under-served by recreational activities for kids, and fills them with safe, healthy, and high-quality playing surfaces.

The Fields Open!
WPC Student Ricki Ruiz at Snake Court opening 2015
Ricki cutting the ribbon to officially open Snake Court.

The Snake Court pitch project* is just one contemporary example of why is the College’s mission so important. WPC provides urban and diverse students an opportunity to grow in a Christ-centered, liberal arts environment, so they can return to their communities, ready to help them flourish!

Rockwood is flourishing with this safe environment for kids of all ages to enjoy. Even before the ceremonial opening on September 22, young futsal enthusiasts were giving the new fields a good shake down. Dignitaries from Gresham, Multnomah County, the Timbers, and sponsors took to the Court to officially open the fields. They were all there because of Ricki’s idea to provide the next generations with a pitch to play on rather than a slab of worn out asphalt.

“When kids don’t have easy access to activity, we believe soccer is the perfect solution,” commented Shawn Levy of Operation Pitch Invasion, one of the key sponsors to the fields.

Ricki Ruiz and Dr. Cook at Snake Court Opening 2015
Ricki and Dr. Cook

Gresham’s Mayor, Shane Bemis, had this to say of Ricki and the project: “This is a great amenity to be used by families and kids. It is all because of a young man who grew up in this community and is still invested in this community.”

Why is it called Snake Court? Ricki explains it is an acronym for “Sports, Neighborhood, Action, Knowledge and Empowerment.”

Read more about this project in an August 11, 2015, Oregonlive.com article.

View photos and video of the September 22, 2015, grand opening on Operation Pitch Invasion’s website.

*The project includes two futsal pitches (or fields) which are smaller than soccer fields where teams of five players compete. The name comes from the Portuguese Futebol de salão , which can be translated as “room football” because it is generally played indoors. Futsal was developed in Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s.