The South Bend Silver Hawks, a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, swoop down on their foes with a flurry of fastballs and swinging bats. Instead of digging a tunnel directly to the pitcher’s mound, fans can catch one of seven home games from sturdy box seats that offer stately views of the infield. This year, first baseman Yazy Arbelo has led the slugging stats with 27 homers and 86 RBIs over 120 games. In 83 innings, southpaw David A. Holmberg has logged 81 strikeouts and cultivated a microscopic 2.39 ERA in a petri dish. Fans can also enjoy nonathletic festivities at the ballpark, including fireworks and a concert on August 26, Canines at the Cove on August 27, and an autograph session with the team’s stunt doubles. Meanwhile, a new downtown entrance greets visitors at Coveleski Stadium, where they can look for their likenesses on a recently installed jumbotron. As one of the only Minor League fields that features cleat-gripping turf, the Cove enables lightning-fast sprints and prevents the Hawks from floating away.
The Indiana Ice glide toward their eighth consecutive USHL playoff appearance and contend for their second Clark Cup during two bone-rattling bouts against Eastern Conference foes. Through 42 games, the young pack of puck punishers has racked up 26 wins behind star forward Daniil Tarasov, whose robust 56 points has opposing defenses folding like a tent cursed with a below-average poker face. San Jose Sharks 2011 draft pick Sean Kuraly skates among the league's top scorers with 26 goals, and goalie Jon Gillies protects the team's leads by unfurling the USHL's best save percentage in front of the net. During breaks in the glacial action, the Hardee's Chill Girls scorch the ice with scintillating steps as mascot Big-E-Foot roams the arena dishing out high-fives and digging out stray cats from his fur.
The nationally ranked Western Michigan Broncos hockey squad is coming off satisfying wins against 12th-ranked Michigan State and look to continue their run toward a bid in the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship tournament. Immerse yourself in the raucous atmosphere of a college hockey game as you watch goalkeeper Nick Pisellini stick-flicking center Max Campbell, and the Broncos squad as they shoot, skate, and pontificate on the ice.
Founded five years ago, the Battle Creek Bombers have already shown their mettle, earning the title of 2011 Northwoods League Champions in 2011. The Northwoods League, one of the nation’s most competitive collegiate summer leagues, offers its top-caliber players minor league internships without jeopardizing their college careers. This season, the Bombers hope to conquer their league again and send more of its players to the MLB, having already done so for alumnus Tony Sanchez, who was the fourth pick in the 2009 draft. Led by Daniel Rockett, their top 2011 scorer with 46 runs and 43 RBIs, the team will surely spend this season launching home runs without the help of covert trebuchets.
While the players focus on the game, their mosquito mascot, Mo-Skeeter, mingles with roaring crowds in the Bomber’s home venue, C.O. Brown Stadium. Patrons can look on from general seating or opt for the more luxurious HBC fan-deck seats, where panoramic views complement an included all-you-can-eat feast with draft beer and hot dogs.
Simply put, Players Sport & Social Group helps more than 60,000 people each year get together, meet new friends, and have fun. The two-decade-old company has more than doubled in size in the last five years, due in no small part to the wide variety of sports leagues and clinics that it offers at venues throughout the city. Teams or individuals can sign up for sports ranging from dodge ball to beach volleyball to games of "bags," otherwise known as cornhole. Players can check their weekly standings online and review each sport's rules, learning exactly what is considered a foul in kickball or how to dispose of a football opponent's captured flag by burning it in a respectful ceremony.
The company also hosts and sponsors social events such as happy hours, fundraisers, and the Luau: a 55,900-participant grass-volleyball tournament with DJ music, food, and beer. Similarly, The Big Dig volleyball tournament offers the same mix of munchies, brews, and live entertainment, but on the sands of North Avenue Beach.
Kindled on October 8, 1997?the 126th anniversary of Chicago's infamous blaze?the Chicago Fire played their first Major League Soccer season in 1998 as one of the league's first expansion teams?and nabbed its first and only MLS Cup in that inaugural season. Under the supervision of U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley, the club has been a hazard ever since, taking home four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophies and reaching the playoffs in nearly every year of its existence. Located in Bridgeview, Toyota Park hosts each home game, its grounds spacious enough to seat 20,000 and fertile enough for planting new soccer-net saplings each spring.