For the past five years, the Ontario Reign have dominated opponents as the ECHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets and the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings. Formerly the Texas Wildcatters, and before that, the Huntington Blizzard, the Reign rose to existence in 2008. And, rather than naming the team the old-fashioned way of letting a raccoon pick random letters from a bag of Scrabble pieces, the newly spawned organization turned to its fans with a name-the-team contest. That contest kicked off what has been a thriving relationship between the Reign and Ontario hockey fans. In fact, the Reign led the ECHL in attendance during their first three seasons. In 2012 and 2013, the team rewarded its loyal fans with back-to-back Pacific Division championships, and in coming seasons, hopes to be a perennial contender for the Kelly Cup.
As a PGA-certified pro, Jeff Thomsen's distinguished golf career began decades ago, when the 16-year-old Thomsen swung his way to the Idaho State Amateur championship, becoming the youngest player ever to earn that rarefied distinction. His early success would pave the cart path to a long career that included 175 PGA Tour events, participation in 14 major championships, multiple tournament victories, and once saving a course-side community from a feral golf cart. Today, Jeff showers pupils with golf wisdom culled from both his 38-year competitive career and a certification from the Nicklaus/Flick Golf School. The passionate pedagogue helps players sharpen their game, lengthen their drives, and fold scorecards into paper cranes with hands-on, comprehensive lessons conducted at multiple courses throughout the hills of Treasure Valley.
Bowlers step up, drop, and roll balls down 20th Century Lanes' 24 modern lanes, ending in an eruption of clanking pins, hoots, and hollers. As the scattered pins are reset, the bowling alley's automatic system calculates the score while visitors lounge in plush purple chairs. Between frames, bowlers can fuel up on barbecue-beef sandwiches or pizza from the caf?, grab a cocktail from the Gaslight Lounge, or stroll into the pro shop to purchase a new bowling bag that matches their Sunday's best bowling gown. 20th Century Lanes also hosts events such as bowling tournaments and league play, and resident coaches lead private, couples, and team lessons.
Newly built with a fleet of educational exhibits, the nonprofit Idaho Public Aquarium brims with underwater wildlife that scuttles, swims, and frolics, overseen by staff members and dedicated volunteers. Families peruse exhibits that give insight into a slice of aquatic life and emphasize its continuance, such as stingray touch tank and the shark nursery, where guests can witness baby sharks peeking out of their eggs while crooning peaceful lullabies or playing peekaboo. Added to the list are new exhibits, such as the 17,000-gallon sea turtle tank and the North Pacific cold water tank. Sea-resident enthusiasts can also participate in birthday parties with private tours and a nighttime animal feeding.
As the early-morning sky lightens and the sun paints the horizon in purples, blues, oranges, and yellows, a fleet of balloons takes flight. These are Boise Hot Air Company?s balloons?colorful inflated vessels bedecked with purple and yellow stripes, red checkerboard patterns, and the stars and stripes of the American flag. Captains take groups aloft at 30 minutes before official sunrise in baskets equipped with seats and dividers for added safety. Flying only in fair weather and usually at speeds of no more than 8 miles per hour, the captains pilot leisurely flights low over the countryside of rolling hills from March through November.
Hoisting championship trophies and high-stakes competition comes second nature to the Idaho Steelheads. Since joining the ECHL in 2003, the team has qualified for the playoffs every season, and in 2004 and 2007, the team conquered all opponents to take the ECHL Kelly Cup, the league's most prestigious cup other than that coffee mug Wayne Gretzky once touched. An affiliate of the NHL Dallas Stars, their players take to the ice at CenturyLink Arena, where fans routinely fill sections to cheer their team on against Western Conference foes.