As the reigning Midwest Collegiate League champions, the CrackerJacks pour onto the diamond at Brennan Field set to defend their title while showcasing some of the country's top collegiate ballplayers. A year ago—during the inaugural season for both the team and the league—the CrackerJacks established themselves as a spring of talent, sending nine recruits to the league's first-ever all-star game. During 23 home games this season, including five Sunday matchups, fans can scout the club's refreshed roster of up-and-comers, who will remain with the 'Jacks until they head back to their university programs or until they grow too big to fit into Brennan Field's dugouts.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.
Champions Boxing Gym's team of tenacious instructors help clients hone strength, speed, and discipline through a range of boxing and martial arts classes. There are co-ed boxing classes, but some lessons are geared specifically toward women or children. Learn to fight MMA-style in their submission grappling class, or take a more advanced sparring class if you've got a little experience under your belt. Kenpo karate and kickboxing round out the class selection. The spacious gym is filled with speed bags, heavy bags, and bags that are programmed to say "ouch" when you hit them.
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.
The 'K' of the Chicago Sky's logo towers above the other letters, two thin prongs poking out from the top?a nod to the most famous of the city's iconic buildings. Fittingly inspired by the Chicago skyline, the Sky's uniforms have represented the Windy City since 2006. In those years, some of the WNBA's top players have donned the blue and yellow threads, including Candice Dupree, Epiphanny Price, and Sylvia Fowles?a defensive star who also wore red, white, and blue in London in 2012. In 2010, the Sky transitioned from the UIC Pavilion to a new, permanent home court, packing its neatly folded coaches into suitcases and moving to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.