The annual Wild Bill’s Fun Run was held in Hayden Park, where new soccer fields were recently unveiled for student use. Bill Lundberg | Courtesy

With more than $200,000 in recent improve­ments for Hayden Park, the park’s staff is looking to attract larger crowds than ever to the recre­ation spot, according to Hayden Park Fitness and Recre­ation Director Bill Lundberg.

Lundberg, one of the driving forces behind the improve­ments to the park, helped make the decision to allocate funds to a 100-by 140-meter grass field, which was com­pleted three weeks ago. The area con­sists of two full-sized soccer fields and a smaller practice field. The Hillsdale College men’s and women’s club soccer teams, intra­mural teams, and the Hillsdale Academy soccer teams will use the fields for prac­tices and games. Lundberg said he would also like to use the field for rugby.

The field alone used $170,000 of the $200,000 total spent on the improve­ments. Lundberg and the park staff said they hope to add stadium lights to the field in the near future.

Hayden Park is a favorite leisure spot for many Hillsdale College and Hillsdale Academy stu­dents as well as local res­i­dents. Although the park has seen its share of minor improve­ments since its inception, Lundberg said park staff have been looking to make more major upgrades for some time.

Before the recent improve­ments to the park, and before the park itself existed, the plan for the bare 190-acre plot was to build an exclusive com­munity of houses and apart­ments. The housing was adver­tised as “a retirement com­munity that values intel­li­gence, integrity, and inde­pen­dence,” as stated in the original designs. Before con­struction began, however, Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn and the college’s Board of Trustees decided to use the land to build a park and a cross-country course. Hayden Park’s con­struction began in 2008 and opened to stu­dents and res­i­dents in 2011.

More improve­ments to the park include grooming the disk-golf targets and the mountain bike trails, the addition of a new putting green, and general improve­ments to the driving range and golf practice course as a whole.

“When we can provide more offerings for stu­dents, it allows stu­dents with all sorts of dif­ferent interests to gather together and expe­rience this unique envi­ronment,” said Ashlyn Landherr, director of Student Activ­ities Board.

Many dif­ferent orga­ni­za­tions within the Hillsdale com­munity use Hayden Park.

“Hayden Park pro­vides a much larger field for us to play sports like flag football and soccer,” said junior Jacob Sievers, member of the Campus Recre­ation club.

Lundberg said Hayden serves as home for the freshman ice­breaker event, He takes pride in the fact that there are no gates at the entrance, no rental fees for any of the facil­ities or equipment, and of the general open-door policy for members of the Hillsdale com­munity. The park is often used as a location for events hosted by Hillsdale orga­ni­za­tions including the GOAL Program, SAB, and others. These events can range from cookouts to bon­fires to fundraisers. Hayden Park has also been used as a classroom of sorts for the Wilderness Sur­vival class taught by Asso­ciate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers and Joe Kellam.

The Hayden Park improve­ments also included the relo­cation of, and the inscription upon, a boulder placed near the new fields. This 16-ton boulder is marked with the Hillsdale “H” logo as well as a short mission statement for the college and the ath­letics program.

Hayden Park is also the location of the annual Wild Bill’s Home­coming Fun Run, which took place for the last time on Sept. 22, during home­coming weekend, according to Lundberg, and the Color Run, hosted by SAB.

Lundberg and Hayden Park staff work to ensure that the park is kept in good shape so the Hillsdale com­munity may enjoy all it has to offer.