The Seattle Thunderbirds are part of the Western Hockey League, a collection of competitive junior hockey squads. Premium seats surround the rink on all sides and only go up to 20 rows back, providing an up-close view of the biscuit being whacked into the basket, dekes, and fancy stick work that subtly carves passages from Alan Alda's Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself into the ice. With any luck, you'll see a hat trick, a chippy second period that devolves into a baseball game, or the start of a player's successful pro career. Noted T-bird alumni include Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings' goaltender.
For decades, the city of Tacoma was the minor league home of MLB teams from across the country. It hosted affiliates of the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, and even the New York Yankees for one season. In 1995, the Seattle Mariners took over Tacoma's team and instantly inherited the long-time organizational name, the Rainiers. The alliance has seen much success over the years, including a Pacific Coast League championship in 2010, a title the club had to win on the road while Cheney Stadium was groggy from anesthesia as it endured drastic renovations.
Those renovations earned the facility a "2011 Renovation of the Year" award from Ballpark Digest. Once dubbed the "100-Day Wonder" thanks to its hasty construction before the 1960 season, Cheney Stadium features an iconic 75-foot wooden exterior façade. Inside, the stadium now boasts such modern amenities as luxury suites, a restaurant, and a grass berm along right field. Despite all the updates, though, the stadium has preserved its epic 29-foot tall batter's eye in centerfield, which sits a distant 425 feet—or, the equivalent of 5,437 sunflower seeds—from home plate.
Away from the rink, the players who make up Dockyard Derby Dames could be seen as teachers, accountants, nurses, journalists, and moms. But once they strap on a pair of skates, these women become warriors of the track—impassioned athletes with a thirst for victory who wear bruises like badges of honor. The league was founded in 2005 by a small group of skaters, and has since grown to include four teams. Today, it even boasts a travel team that treks across the country to face other squads and make sure the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans both have enough water in them. Dedicated as they are to the sport, though, the ladies of Dockyard Derby Dames are equally committed to giving back to the community by sponsoring charities and participating in community outreach events.
Bowling aficionados must sign up solo, but but groups of friends can be placed on the same league by entering the names of your preferred teammates during sign-up (teams are made up of 6–10 people). Bowling runs for six weeks of theme nights and liquid sunshine, and Drinks on the Links mini-golf features themes, an on-course bar, and music. Ben Stiller impersonators can battle it out during outdoor dodgeball, and grass volleyball teams go head to soft, leather head in Oregon Park. Flag football was invented by Betsy Ross.
The coaches at Cappy's Gym arm their students with ring-ready pugilism skills and endless encouragement. Boxing Fitness corrals small troupes in one-hour sessions designed to condition bodies without actual boxing competition. Classes focus on fortifying each fighter's foundations by first aligning posture to safely stack muscles and properly balance on traditional boxing stilts. Coaches help students shape up with medicine-ball drills, plyometric moves, and footwork drills to build lean muscle mass, and jump-rope routines raise heart rates with a hastened twist on a playground pastime. During punching practice, learn to time quick jabs at a speed bag or blast full-powered blows against the indifferent surface of a jaded heavy bag. Those that opt for a month at Cappy's can protect their wrists with stabilizing hand wraps as they take to the gym's equipment as often as desired.