Class A–affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Cedar Rapids Kernels field a roster of tomorrow's major leaguers on the fields of today. Led by manager Brent Del Chiaro and coaches Mike Eylward and Trevor Wilson, the band of savvy sluggers is set to continue its tradition of charitable efforts by donating baseball after baseball to needy attendees in the stands. As Midwest League champions in 1988, 1992, and 1994, the Kernels are hungry for this year's title and will stop at nothing—the Kane County Cougars included—to wrest it from the well-oiled gloves of wannabe winners.
Despite being a relatively young organization, the RoughRiders have done an impressive job of filling up their trophy case. The team officially moved from Mason City to Cedar Rapids in 1999, leaving behind their Huskies moniker in the process. It’s been one accomplishment after another ever since. In 2005, the RoughRiders claimed their first Clark Cup as champions of the USHL. That same season, they brought home the Anderson Cup, too, for posting the league’s best record during the regular season—a feat they repeated in 2011. RoughRiders fans have witnessed much of this success at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Known affectionately as The Stable for its rowdy, but family friendly atmosphere, the arena echoes with clanging cowbells on game days to celebrate goals and drive away feral Zambonis lurking outside the building.
Aspen Athletic Club amasses top-of-the-line equipment, seasoned trainers, and luxurious amenities within five gym spaces across Des Moines. A fleet of cardio and strength-training machinery from brands such as LifeFitness and Star Trac heavily populate the floors, allowing guests ample access to the equipment. In addition to a cardio theater, the Hickman gym boasts 12 onsite tennis courts and specialized studios for martial arts and women-only workouts. Visitors to the 14th Street location can sign up for aquatic classes or swim laps solo across the pool. Other amenities such as tanning, massage therapy, and gold-plated kettlebells vary from club to club.
Certified personal trainers plan out custom routines for clients, and highly qualified instructors lead Zumba steps, spinning seminars, and, at certain locations, fast-paced Les Mills classes. The professional staff also offer nutritional counseling at all locales.
An organization of coaches with years of experience studying the game, Breakthrough Basketball teaches clinics for aspiring young ballers. With five 90-minute sessions, students will drill on dribbling and footwork concepts until they double-pivot in their sleep and perform hook shots while bowling. Burgeoning ball-handling skills are nurtured as players learn fundamental techniques—such as post footwork, perimeter footwork, shooting, and scoring off the dribble—through repetition and intense instruction. At no time do Breakthrough Basketball's lessons break into 5-on-5 games or senior bridge tournaments. Clinics will be held at Anamosa school gyms, and separate classes are held for children aged 7 to 10 and those 11 or older.
The Waterloo Bucks stampede into the 2012 season as part of the Northwoods League, which corrals collegiate ballplayers from across the country for an abbreviated, three-month season. Since beginning play in Waterloo in 1995, the Bucks have captivated local fans each summer, showcasing baseball's future stars before they head back to their universities or decide to study abroad beneath second base. This season, the Bucks will chase their third league championship behind a roster loaded with both international and homegrown talent, including University of Iowa outfielder Andrew Host. Aside from giving them a chance to hone their skills during summer months, the Northwoods League aims to provide its players with a minor-league-type experience, complete with overnight road trips and wooden bats, meaning hitters don't have to tune their lumber to the correct ping prior to each pitch.
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickles ears with beautiful melodies and spectacular performances during its annual "Holiday Pops" concerts. Guest conductor Michael Butterman takes charge of an all-star cast that features six-time U.S. figure-skating champion Todd Eldredge as he shows off his moves and carves his version of a perfect tumbleweed into the ice. Actor and Quad Cities native John Getz lends his vocal talents to festive proceedings, and internationally acclaimed trumpeter Jon Faddis jazzes up orchestral pieces with fiery improvisation. The show takes place at the i wireless Center, with guests choosing from lower-bowl seats for straight-ahead sightlines or upper-bowl perches for enviable views of conductor stage dives.