September 9, 2007

Lounge leads to learning about leisure, laughter

Editor's note: In a previous post I told you that I was working on a commentary about attending various activities on post and writing about my experiences. Last week my boss decided that it was such a good idea that I should make it a series and write a commentary each week. This is the last of that series. As I previously posted, I accepted a new job offer and start tomorrow.

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (Sept. 7, 2007) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

In the past few weeks, I have explored a variety of options on post looking for activities to enjoy during my husband's pending deployment. While I enjoyed classes and programs I have participated in, I also wanted to find some places where I could kick back and relax. So when Sgt. First Class James “Jimmy” Coker, a friend I'd met on an assignment when I first arrived at the Guardian, asked if I would be willing to take some pictures of his fantasy football league's draft activities at the Sparetime Lounge, I jumped at the chance.

I don my husband's old Dallas Cowboy's jersey to get into character and head to the Sparetime Lounge.

I instantly feel comfortable when I arrive. There are tables scattered about surrounded by televisions of various sizes, even a few big screen TVs. In the back I notice a collection of pool tables.

“Hey Michelle,” Jimmy greets me as I walk towards the bar. “What do you want to drink? This one's on me.”

“Just a diet coke,” I reply as the bartender adds another drink to the beverages in front of him.

A group of guys walk up to the bar and Jimmy introduces me to the members of the Cajun Cutters, his fantasy football league. As we carry our drinks into a glass partitioned area in back of the lounge, I am introduced to others.

“We set up a table for you over here,” Jimmy says as he motions to a table near the pool tables.

“I don't know much about football, much less fantasy football,” I say as I grab my notebook.

“Let me explain,” he says as we walk over to his computer. After explaining the basics, other players explain their research methods for picking the right players for their teams.

“We research 364 days a year,” Jimmy said after I comment on how much work goes into preparing their league draft.

As other league members continue to arrive, I explore the lounge.

The bright-colored stools and chairs surrounding the bar area and pool tables give it a “pool hall” feel.

Sharing a building with the Stars and Strikes Bowling Center makes it convenient if you get hungry or competitive.

I head back to the football draft activities just in time to order lunch, a ham poboy. When it arrived, I could hardly wait to try it. I settle back into my seat and enjoy my sandwich as we wait for the remaining league players to arrive.

I continue to explore. I notice people bringing laptops and settling in to work and play. After talking to staff, I learn there are a lot of amenities at the facility, besides pool tables and TVs. Patrons can access the free wireless Internet, test their knowledge with the National Trivia Network system, or compete against others in electronic Texas Hold'em.

After a few hours of feasting on food and finding new friends, I realize that the Sparetime Lounge is a great place to hang out.

I check with staff members to learn about upcoming activities. Stars and Strikes Bowling Center and Sparetime Lounge host the late night Rock and Bowl beginning at 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. If bowlers need a “break” from all their strikes, they can head over to the Sparetime Lounge and share their tales and tips with others.

Patrons can cheer on their favorite football team at NFL Sunday Ticket. The Sparetime Lounge will show nine games on 11 TVs.

Staff members also say that upgrades and renovations are planned for the future. I'm excited to see what else is in store for the facility. Maybe I'll see you there!

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