When the local skate park shut down, Jackie Andrews decided to ensure that her son, Beau, would still have a safe, legal place to practice his favorite sport. According to a recent profile in 360 West magazine, Jackie understood the challenges she faced from city officials but simply would not take “no” for an answer. The tenacious single mother of two was no stranger to entrepreneurial feats—nearly two decades ago, with no retail experience, she opened Chelsea's Tea Room, which gradually expanded from a tiny room to a 3,000-square-foot boutique.
Still, Jackie reflects, “opening a skate park is not the easiest thing to do,” and when the time came to build The Pier Skatepark she leaned on the design expertise of San Diego–based skate-park designer Brent Kronmueller. Housed inside a hangar-sized warehouse, his eventual layout would try to capture the sensation of skating outside with touches such as decorative palm trees interspersed among the park’s collection of rails, ramps, ledges, and exasperated high-school principals.
Since opening, the park has attracted not only local skaters but celebrities such as Lil Wayne, who recently paid a special late-night visit. When they aren’t celebrity spotting, guests can earn physical-education credit for school, enhance their skills during five-day summer camps, and hold contests to determine who has the coolest trick or the stickiest grip tape.
At Sigma Performance Swimming, dedicated instructors coach everyone from toddlers taking their first splash to adults training for professional trials. The waters in 25-yard indoor and outdoor pools are churned to a froth as swimmers work to hone the school’s three focuses: technique, speed, and endurance. With a ratio of five students to one instructor, pupils are granted ample individual attention as they learn basic aquatic strokes. Students can consult footage of their form during an underwater-stroke analysis to further refine their technique. As their talents grow, swimmers can join Sigma’s nationally competitive teams or set personal goals, prepare for races, and perfect their sailfish Halloween costumes.
In 1997, the newly formed Fort Worth Bulls, due to a naming conflict, had to change their moniker. Although they settled on the Brahma—a type of beef cattle—as new inspiration, the one-time bulls never altered their tenacity. After the Central Hockey League's Fort Worth Fire folded in 1999, the Brahmas packed their players in bubble wrap and moved from the WPHL to the new league, where they have since made multiple playoff appearances and, in 2008–09, captured the organization's first Ray Miron President's Cup with a five-game series victory over the Colorado Eagles.
As legend has it, an 1875 article in the Dallas Herald claimed that a live panther was spotted walking the streets of Fort Worth. The city soon became known as the "The Panther City," so when Fort Worth's first minor-league baseball team was founded, in 1888, calling it the "Panthers"—rather than, say, the "Fighting Dandelions"—just made sense. Over the years, journalists shortened the club's nickname to the "Cats," and the team dominated the Texas League through the first part of the 20th Century, at one point winning six consecutive league titles in the 1920s.
After bouncing between affiliations with several MLB teams, the Cats disbanded in 1964. However, the Cats returned in 2002, almost immediately reliving the success of the previous century and capturing three straight titles from 2005–07. Despite never adopting the Panther name, the modern-day Cats have never lost sight of their history, as evidenced by mascot "Dodger" and LaGrave Field's classic design.
Just off a straight stretch of the Trinity River, the sounds of laughter and victorious whooping grow louder. A curious look toward the hubbub yields a vision rarely seen in the city—helmet-clad athletes of all ages splash along the water's surface, launching their bodies in what looks like the offspring of water-skiing and snowboarding onto ramps, jumps, and railings that protrude from the water's surface like geometric islands. It's all part of a regular afternoon at Cowtown Wakepark, the watery brainchild of 20-year wakeboarding enthusiast Tommy Fambrough. During the course of three years, Tommy slowly formed the labyrinth of water-bound obstacles that visitors enjoy today, earning acclaim from the Trinity River Vision Authority's revitalization project for his riverside paradise's part in keeping the area an accessible and productive part of the community.
Each wakeboarding run begins when visitors strapped into their Liquid Force boards grab a cable and are pulled from the shore-side wooden platform across the water, cutting through the river's calm surface and pausing only to heckle passing fish. Spectators stick to the shore under covered tents and at picnic tables, or recline on the water's surface inside tented rafts. Onsite instructors can show first-timers the ropes, and also lead summer day camps to instill children aged 7–16 with wakeboarding, kneedboarding, and wakeskating basics.
A playlist of popular tunes absorbs the subtle clicks and wooshes of wheels on wood as skaters glide around the golden floor at Arlington Skatium. Open-skate sessions allow rollers of any age to rack up laps, while preschool/stroller skate sessions grant two-foot fledglings and baby buggies exclusive access to the floorboards. The center also hosts skating classes to help students shave seconds off of their morning commute. Between sets, blue neon lights show the way to the snack bar, where skaters can refuel with a pizza or soda before settling down for a nap in the arcade room.