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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Athletes compete in Games of Texas

Bryan-College+Station+hosted+the+Games+of+Texas.
Photo by Photo via Twitter (@TAAFNation)

Bryan-College Station hosted the Games of Texas.

Thousands of athletes from all over the state of Texas came to Bryan-College Station this past weekend to compete in the Texas Amateur Federation Games of Texas (TAAF), otherwise known as The Games of Texas.
With more than 7,000 athletes and 160 parks and recreation programs in attendance, the games offered 11 different sports competing across the community, including the athletic facilities at Texas A&M University.
The games and participation for public spectatorship were free, except for swimming and track and field, where you have to qualify for the events.
The age group for each sport can range from as young as 4 years old all the way to 73 years, so there is a wide variety of competition.
The games have been played in the BCS area in 2015, and will return to the area in summer 2019 as well.
Kelly Kelby is the City of College Station Parks and Recreation Assistant Director who helped get the games back to the BCS area.
“It shows them not only the facilities we have, but the staff, the volunteers and the community base we have — it’s an impressive level of support that you don’t see a lot of places,” Kelbly said.
According to Kelby, in 2015 when the games were in town the community had a $7.5 million impact with over 30,000 visitors taking in the amenities of the restaurants, hotels, and businesses in the area.
One of the athletes that competed in the swim events is 13-year-old Hailey Heldenbrand from Southlake. Heldenbrand had never swam competitively until 2012 when she joined her local program. She has put her efforts to success by qualifying to nationals last year and tallying four medals: two gold, one silver and a bronze.
“I loved it, so I wanted to continue, I love the rush you get when you’re about to swim, and I just love getting in the water and swimming,” Heldenbrand said.
Aside from the athletes, volunteers all over the BCS community, and Texas A&M University helped take part in the games as well.
Bobbie Cantu, a second year sports management graduate student at Texas A&M, works for the City of Bryan-College Station and was in charge of the tennis events held on campus.
“I’ve competed in the games when I was in middle school and high school and it gives athletes a chance for little competition and to have them play people they don’t normally play, while also traveling and seeing new places,” Cantu said
Cantu has helped put together and run the tennis events in the previous years, as this her third time working the event.
Juan Rios, a 23-year-old sophomore at the Coastal Bend College in Kingsville, was one of the athletes that won a gold medal in the men’s open singles bracket.
“This is one of my favorite events, that comes around every summer because it not only helps me with my game of tennis, but also make friends in the process as well,” Rios said.
Rios has has competed in the games since 2014, and also made it to the doubles final Sunday afternoon but lost.
“Watching athletes like Rios, and other athletes in other sports come together is something special, knowing we’re giving back to them to enjoy the event while competing makes this event unlike any other,” Cantu said.

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