Park honors late missionary
A missionary who was killed while serving an LDS mission will live on in a new park named on his behalf.
The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District is holding a Grand Opening for the Matt Knoop Memorial Park at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15 at 4056 Shadow Mountain Drive, off Old Ranch Road and S.R. 224.
The event will feature a free continental breakfast and a soccer game played by Knoop’s former soccer teammates and classmates.
"Matt was a local soccer player who did a lot of sports in the community and was in Boy Scouts," Basin Recreation District Manager Brian Hanton said.
Knoop passed away at age 20 in 2008 after a hit-and-run accident in Brazil where he was serving an LDS mission.
"One of our board members were good friends with the family and knew the impact he had with soccer and with other things he did for the community," Hanton said. "Because the main focus of the park is soccer fields, as well as lacrosse, [naming the park after him] would carry on the importance of being a good role model for the community."
Knoop’s parents, classmates, coaches and a Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District board member will also speak at the Grand Opening.
His mother, Kaye Knoop, said she is thrilled Park City has chosen to name the field after him.
"This is such an honor for him, his family and his friends. We feel his memory will live on and on. He won’t be forgotten because he left such an impression on people," Knoop said.
She described her son as being a friend to everyone, always wanting to help people and talk to people that no one else talked to.
"People came to him with their problems and he would always listen. It didn’t matter what their faith was. He just wanted to help them," she said.
Knoop still has hard days, she said, and she now has a new normal, knowing her life will never go back to the way it was before her son’s death.
"He is still on my mind 24/7. I often see or hear something that will remind me of him," Knoop said.
To honor his memory, Park City High School, awards a Matt Knoop scholarship every year to a student athlete.
Past recipients of the award and former missionary companions will be present at the Grand Opening, along with his Boy Scout troop who will raise the flag.
The park features a field with soccer and lacrosse lines for both boys and girls lacrosse.
A large playground will serve the younger community members. "It isn’t your traditional slide playground," Hanton said. "It’s a little more creative and one of the biggest things is the shade over the playground so kids aren’t exposed to the sun all summer long. We think will be a big draw for the community."
The playground has spinning devices, a jungle gym with ropes that allow kids to use creativity in getting around the playground and a sand and water feature.
"So it’s not just up a ladder and down a slide," Hanton said. "It offers creativity in how they play and lets kids use their imagination on how they want to use things."
The park also has seven pavilions, which provide much-needed shade most other parks in the area don’t offer, Hanton said. Six have views of the playing field and one is by the soccer practice field behind the maintenance building.
Miss Billie’s Trail that goes around the park and community gardens was also reopened for the park. The trail is named after Billie Koleman, the founder of a popular preschool that was on the property.
"It’s a popular cross-county trail in the winter and is also popular for biking," Hanton said. "And we wanted to keep that name around. A lot of people who have been here a while will recognize the name. So we wanted to honor Miss Billie for her service to the community."
The Basin Recreation District broke ground on the field last September and they are just now finishing the final touches. But already people have been sneaking into the park.
"It’s going to be a fun event and hopefully people can make it out there," Hanton said. "But if they cannot come out on Saturday then they should come sometime in the future to enjoy what we have for them."
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