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.
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.
The Charlotte Eagles are a professional men's soccer team who compete in the second division of the United Soccer Leagues. This year's roster is packed with serious soccer muffins, such as midfielder and fruit elitist Joe DeLass and Uruguayan forward Gustavo Bentos. The players will only be able to display fancy footwork for four more home games. Check out the schedule and plan to attend a game when the sun will be close enough to earth to tan your body home-team orange.
Though competitive ballroom dancer Dana Glandon spends much of her time preparing for and winning national dance championships, she's still found the time to establish several dance studios. Drawing from more than 20 years of dance experience, she joins Tony Prado—a WDC World Pro-Am finalist, stage performer, and tango dancer commended by the USTA—in coaching students of all skill levels at Queen City Ballroom. Through detail-oriented instruction and customized lesson plans, they and their instructors give customers personalized attention, earning accolades as one of Charlotte's best ballroom dance studios from CBS Charlotte. During classes, instructors teach basic techniques of leading and following before moving on to specific steps. Students may learn Latin dances such as salsa, bolero, and merengue; ballroom dances such as foxtrot, Argentine tango, and Viennese waltz; and social dances such as swing, hustle, and two-step. While well versed in the language of dance, the instructors also speak 10 other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, and Slovakian.
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.