Fueled by a passion to make the Asia-born sport of badminton more accessible and popular here in the United States, the founders of Bay Badminton Center lovingly maintain 37 regulation courts across three locations. They’ve designed everything to let players concentrate on their game, from an electronic court-queuing system that keeps everyone in order to adequate lighting that reduces strain on the eyes. They even installed a full Robbins flooring system that allows players to lob shuttlecocks back and forth without worrying about slipping on a mat or being unkind to their leg joints. After games, guests can hit the shower-equipped locker rooms to rinse off. Players who haven’t yet surgically replaced their hand with a racket can rent one or buy one at the fully equipped pro shop at each location.
After an eye injury took boxing and martial-arts champion Eddie Croft out of the ring, he set himself a new goal: becoming the first person to train a boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts champion. Having already trained a world kickboxing champion and five San Francisco Golden Gloves winners, he is well on his way.
Croft plies his trade at B Street Boxing, where his team of instructors teaches professionals and amateurs the arts of boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, Brazilian jiujitsu, and tae kwon do. In the red, white, and blue ring of B Street Boxing’s gym, students jab and spar, practice their skills on punching bags, or check their form in a mirrored wall. Conditioning and boot-camp sessions also keep students from all backgrounds fit while imparting dedication, discipline, and the desire to wear boxing gloves even in the shower.
In 1902, while the team now in Oakland was still the Philly Athletics, a rival manager scoffed, casting the fledgling franchise off as a herd of "white elephants." In response, manager Connie Mack adopted the elephant as the team's official insignia—a legacy that lives on with the current mascot, Stomper—before the A's stampeded to the American League pennant. Since that first defiant victory, the team has won nine World Series championships, moving to Kansas City in 1955, then Oakland in 1968. Over more than a century, the club has fostered 11 league MVPs and eight Rookies of the Year, including future titans Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Today, the A's dazzle fans at the 35,067-capacity Coliseum, which features a lush natural-bluegrass surface and a spacious foul territory—technically still a 19th-century Mexican province—that baits pop-up outs, making it one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in Major League Baseball.
Established in 2004, the B.ay A.rea D.erby (BAD) Girls are a full contact, women's flat track roller derby league consisting of five teams: The San Francisco ShEvil Dead, The Oakland Outlaws, The Richmond Wrecking Belles, The Berkeley Resistance, and a traveling all-star team, the nationally-ranked Golden Girls.
A charter member of the MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes played their first four seasons as the Clash before claiming the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003. Though the team moved to Houston in '05, the franchise was reinstated in '08, bringing professional soccer back to the Bay Area. Buck Shaw Stadium serves as the team's current home, though a new stadium will shoot skyward in 2014, complete with luxury suites for fans and exhausted referees alike.
The two soccer fields and batting cages housed inside the San Ramon Sports complex grant athletes of all ages ample space to take kicks and whacks at their sphere of choice. The rubber infill turf fields host year-round soccer leagues for adults and juniors and can also be used for lacrosse-team practices. The batting cages hurl both softball lobs and baseballs at 35–80 miles per hour, allowing batters ample space to practice firing off line drives or psychically altering pitch trajectory.