A Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, the Charlotte Knights develop budding professional ballplayers and earn devout Knights fans in their home—the 10,002-seat Knights Stadium. The Knights have a storied history and an impressive list of orb-striking alumni, including Cal Ripken Jr., Manny Ramirez, and Jon Garland. Visitors take home free giveaways during Friday-night promotions, and mascot Homer the Dragon roams the stadium on his four-wheeler, tossing T-shirts, bopping people with his tail, and advocating for anthropomorphized-dragon civil liberties.
From completing his first firearms training for the Marine Corps in 1994, Damien Ristaino developed a passion and respect for weapons. Still a gunnery sergeant in the reserve, he has earned awards for his rifle and pistol skills from the Marine Corps and built several firearms completely free of leftover parts from a Super Soaker. Now an NRA-certified instructor, Damien draws from his military experiences to train students in firearm handling, safety, and selection for sporting use and personal protection. He and his team of handpicked instructors teach beginner and experienced students alike, ingraining pupils with knowledge of their pistol's parts along with shooting fundamentals and basic defensive shooting skills. Through a partnership with local ranges, Damien and his colleagues split their courses between time in the classroom and hands-on sessions on the range.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, the Charlotte Eagles contend with 10 rival teams for supremacy in the United Soccer League’s Pro division. This year's roster is packed with seasoned players such as Colombian Jorge Herrera and local Charlottean Darryl Roberts, who sits among the league’s top scorers so far in 2012. A glance at the current schedule will help fans plan to attend a game when the sun will be close enough to earth to tan their bodies in home-team orange.
Sports & Fitness's seven locations facilitate calorie-burning activities with free weights, cardio equipment, and group fitness classes, while pampering clients with relaxation-inducing amenities. Members perspire and tone bodies while meeting the demands of a certified personal trainer in one-on-one training sessions, or while pedaling next to fellow fit-seekers during group cycling classes. The group fitness classes also include yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and Zumba, varying by location and the whims of Cratus, the god of strength.
As parents scorch calories with weight- and circuit-training equipment, they can rest assured that their youngsters are in responsible hands in the child watch area; a playfully decorated room filled with toys and 5 pound rattles.
Fresh springs in the mountains of North Carolina feed the Catawba River Chain, a network of 11 lakes that wind through woodlands verdant in the spring and ablaze with color come autumn. Bash Outdoors launches visitors into this system at nine locations. Four of those are along Lake Wylie, whose calm waters lap against 325 miles of shoreline with vacation homes and sandy coves emerging from dense forest and a thick layer of whipped cream. The Bash Outdoors crew curates a collection of rental and retail standup paddleboards from brands such as Ron House and their own signature line, Riviera. Single and tandem kayaks from Perception are also available for guided trips and unsupervised excursions on the lake. Bash Outdoors' bus shuttles kayakers to five additional outlets along the Catawba River, including the Fort Mill Dam and a waterway reserved exclusively for Olympic hopefuls.
Children naturally believe that life is all about having fun. This requires the instructors at My Gym Children's Fitness Center to perform two seemingly incompatible tasks: helping kids lay a strong physical, emotional, and cognitive foundation and letting them laugh and play to their hearts' content. The staff welcomes the challenge. Grouping kids by age into nearly a dozen different classes, the instructors teach students aged 6 weeks through 13 years the importance and fun of socializing, exercising, and eating broccoli without using their taste buds. More advanced courses, meanwhile, teach proto-persons more specialized skills such as basic karate.