Led by head coach Jesse Myers, who made several significant player acquisitions before the season, the Rochester Rhinos look to ramp up their scoring prowess for 2012. A member of the USL Pro league, the team incites cheers from loyal fans and whimpers from jostled gophers when playing on its home pitch at Sahlen's Stadium.
Despite spending most of their 125-plus-year history as a minor-league organization, the Bisons began play as a major-league club from 1879–85. All told, nearly 3,000 players and managers have donned the Bisons uniform, including 20 who have been immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently, the Bisons compete every summer for an International League title, as well as the Thruway Cup—a regional- and bragging rights–based trophy chased by the Bisons, the Rochester Red Wings, and the Syracuse Chiefs. The Bisons have done half of their competing since 1988 at Coca-Cola Field, which boasts the largest video board in the minors and an infield kept moist by hoses that spray water and not soda as the field’s name would suggest.
Affiliates of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, the Syracuse Crunch has its second-half sights set on moving up the East Division standings and into the AHL playoffs. Cheer as left-wingers Nicolas Deschamps and Patrick Maroon cross-check opponents, hypnotically skate around mesmerized defenders, and drain three-pointers from center ice. With sharp blades and even sharper puck-manipulating capabilities, the Crunch look to give first-year head coach Mark Holick a successful inaugural campaign. From Oncenter War Memorial Arena's ice-level, Crunch Club, or lower mezzanine-level seats, fans can witness every glove-save at while reading the baroque poems that players write while in the penalty box.
As the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies take to the ice with a roster of young skaters on their way to an NHL career. Named after a legendary (but since dissolved) Junior A team, the Toronto Marlboros, the Marlies have had their share of success since their move to the city in 2005, including a 2011–2012 campaign in which they captured the Western Conference title and nearly hoisted the league's hallowed Calder Cup. Crowds of up to 8,200 fans cheer the Marlies on from their home at Ricoh Coliseum, where team mascot Duke the Dog—his own name an homage to the Duke of Marlborough—dances in the stands.
Gymnastics have always been part of Sasha Kourbatova's life. She started competing when she was 6 years old and trained with a very accomplished coach—her own mother. Sasha's mom Maria won two Olympic gold medals while competing on behalf of the USSR, and she shared her skills with her daughter. When Sasha stopped competing, she decided to open Kour Magic Gymnastics Center. She invited her mom and dad—also a gymnastics coach—along, and together they train a new generation of gymnasts.
Sasha works with all the young kids who come through, and even includes parents in the workouts during Mommy & Me classes. Maria heads up the gym's competitive teams, which let kids test their skills against others. They teach students from 18 months to 18 years old, providing consistently scaling challenges and encouragement along the way.
There are more than 2,000 short tracks in the United States. Among them, fewer than 60 are NASCAR-sanctioned. Holland NASCAR Motorsports Complex is one of the few with such distinction. The raceway has guzzled the fumes of that rarified air since 1960, when it was built as a 1/3-mile facility surrounded by just 1,200 seats. In 1964, the course expanded to 3/8 mile, and four years later, asphalt replaced the outdated shag carpeting as the track's surface. Today, Holland packs up to 7,000 spectators into its grandstands. It completes the race-day experience with various amenities, including The Midway, where fans can fuel up on snacks and drinks, and The Village, where fans party under large tents and around picnic tables.