Adrenaline-pumping fitness and thrilling combat come together in Rising Star Fencing Academy's classes. The United States Fencing Association-member studio's lessons are suited to children as young as 6, and every level teaches creative strategy as it hones stamina, agility, and mental discipline. On a long, rectangular dueling area, coaches and students practice the complex foot- and hand-work for all three fencing styles?foil, sabre, and epee?all using the traditional scoring system. This intensive training is possible, in part, because of the academy's rigorous adherence to safety standards: all students are outfitted with a steel mesh mask and clothed in standard-issue force fields.
With a baseball training academy led by MLB player Jack Cust and a softball training center led by Olympian Jennie Finch, Diamond Nation hosts a staff of professional players and coaches who cull their collective NCAA, MLB, and Olympic experience to refine the hitting, pitching, and fielding skills of burgeoning legends. The Jack Cust Baseball Academy and Jennie Finch Softball Academy share a well-equipped space and employ staffers who personalize player instruction.
ProPlayer Baseball Academy has a Hall of Fame dedicated to former standout students and instructors, many of whom have gone on to have big-league careers. It's a testament to the academy's clout, both as a year-round training facility and as a launching pad to the next level. Inside the 6,000-square-foot, fully turfed facility, coaches lead baseball and softball players aged 7?18 through private lessons, camps, and clinics. Four stationary batting cages let hitters tighten up their swings, and areas for long toss help players stretch their arms without having to cling to the spinning blades of a helicopter. But it's not just the game's budding stars who use these spaces: occasionally current big leaguers visit during the offseason to keep their skills sharp, too.
JCM Baseball Academy fosters the game's future stars under the guidance of owner Justin McKay—an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University who, in 2012, played a major role in leading the team to its best record since 1994. McKay has recruited a staff of fellow Division I–level coaches and players that, together, run numerous programs and camps throughout the year. The JCM's junior- and high-school camps, for instance, focus on the skills and mechanics required to play each position on the field, and also emphasize the importance of remembering to enjoy the game. The camps unfold at FDU's Naimoli Family Baseball Complex, which features state-of-the-art turf to prevent injuries and rival players from planting poison ivy around second base.
As baseball season draws to an end, and the Newark Bears empty their lockers, specters hiding in the mist materialize to transform Riverfront ballpark into the Stadium of Screams. Daring explorers of the unexplained can traverse through the seasonally haunted attractions, which include haunted locker rooms, where undead actors lie in wait, ready to terrify unsuspecting visitors, and bubbling cauldrons brewing viscous vats of Gatorade. Just beyond the cursed confines, shrieks of terror become shrieks of glee at the Stadium of Screams Fun Zone. Visitors can participate in a free nightly treasure hunt, or spend up to $1 on prize-riddled amusement park games. Costumed actors greet guests for photos and stage fear tastings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and again from 11 p.m. to midnight. Although not included in the price of this Groupon, a hayride ($5) is available to tote guests around the baseball field, granting sublime views of the night sky and an eerily moonlit home plate.
Rain delays and snow-outs are never an issue within Hudson Baseball Center, where instructors lead baseball and softball lessons atop the indoor facility's evergreen turf. Working in individual practice lanes or in group clinics, players focus on improving distinct aspects of their game, including hitting, pitching, and fielding. Regardless of the specialty involved, every lesson places particular emphasis on critical thinking and physical discipline, valuable skills for both playing baseball and wrestling other jury members to settle an impasse. Comprised of former high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, the faculty includes the likes of a Class-A pitcher for the Reds, a high-school All-American with 14 years of coaching experience, and a softball player who spent 13 years with the Hoboken Shockers' traveling team.