As the class-A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have prepared rising stars for the big leagues since 1999. The feisty squad has worked their way through some tough seasons in the New York-Penn League, including four appearances in the league finals and a league championship in 2004. Now entering their 16th season, the Scrappers still play their home games at Eastwood Field, which showcases a view of verdant woods and the sasquatches living in peace beyond the outfield wall for crowds of up to 6,300 fans.
Line drives sizzle and skid across the facilities at Staton Sports, where ballplayers polish their skills and veteran coaches prep athletes to compete in a variety of sports. Backed by stints with three MLB organizations, the center's president and CEO, T.J. Staton, heads a staff of coaches who bring a combined 20-plus years of professional playing experience to each practice, game, and training session. The center's field also plays host to traveling teams, and inside two party rooms, visitors gather to celebrate birthdays or exalt an adolescent bat's aversion to the peer pressures of cork.
The City of Massillon Parks & Recreation Department takes great pride in ensuring that the Western Stark County community has safe and enjoyable leisure spaces and programs that improve the lives of all their residents. Their programs range from preschool age to seniors, and include indoor recreation spaces such as a 69,000-square-foot rec center, fitness area, and aquatics center. Outdoors, the department maintains 30 parks and open spaces, highlighted by the award-winning, 27-hole golf course, The Legends of Massillon.
Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
In 2001, Washington County faced a dilemma. A new baseball park was under construction just off I-70, but the field had no team to call it home. Rather than let unemployed mascots set up circus tents in the outfield, a group of local business owners purchased the Ohio-based Canton Crocodiles and moved the franchise to Pennsylvania. Months later, the Washington Wild Things inaugurated the new stadium with a dazzling bit of irony, losing their first-ever game against the very team that replaced the Crocodiles in Canton.
Nevertheless, the Wild Things finished the 2002 season in grand fashion, setting a league record for wins and claiming first place in the Frontier League's powerful East Division, and the team went on to make six straight playoff appearances from 2002–2007. Throughout its history, the Wild Things have featured a number of future and former big-leaguers, and its roster regularly includes Pittsburgh natives, who grew up practicing their swings with steel girders.