As the class-A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have prepared rising stars for the big leagues since 1999. The feisty squad has worked their way through some tough seasons in the New York-Penn League, including four appearances in the league finals and a league championship in 2004. Now entering their 15th season, the Scrappers still play their home games at Eastwood Field, which showcases a view of verdant woods and the sasquatches living in peace beyond the outfield wall for crowds of up to 6,300 fans.
Securely fastened into a tandem-parachute system, an instructor and a pupil tumble from a Skylane Cessna 182, a floating sensation running through their bodies for the 45- to 60-second plummet. Shortly thereafter, a more experienced jumper takes the leap from 10,500–13,500 feet as an instructor falls separately alongside to ensure that nothing goes awry between the departure of the aircraft and the opening of the chute.
Back on solid ground, a 25-acre drop zone reunites divers post-free-fall, and in the distance, Skydive Pennsylvania's pilots shuttle other divers skyward in a fleet of aircrafts that includes a Super Pilatus Porter, which can ascend 13,500 feet in 15 minutes. The on-ground personnel photograph and videotape all tandem and instruction-assisted-free-fall dives, converting their footage into professionally edited videos, DVDs of stills, and screensavers for skydiving-prone laptops.
HappyFeet founder Andy Barney boasts a lengthy resumé: the Oxford, England, native was a semipro soccer player by the age of 16, studied physical education in college, and coached youth soccer for 10 years before moving to the U.S. In America, he coached at Avila University and wrote the book Training Soccer Legends, but one day he found his extensive experience challenged by an unlikely group—preschoolers. He had agreed to spend what he thought would be an easy afternoon leading tots in a soccer workshop, only to end up exhausted yet inspired to design a curriculum specifically for younger kids.
His research eventually led to HappyFeet, where instructors play with kids aged 2–6 using a proprietary lesson plan the company dubbed “story time with a soccer ball.” Each kid receives a ball, and beyond practicing basic skills such as dribbling, striking, and autograph signing in a noncompetitive setting, the incorporation of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs enables kids to exercise both physical and mental faculties. The 45-minute indoor classes, which were reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune, are held onsite at preschools and sports facilities such as PISA. Little ones can also be enrolled in HappyFeet’s leagues, where a 15- to 20-minute mini class precedes a 30-minute game.
At Lakevue Athletic Club, a staff of seasoned competitors breeds a love of fitness through tennis, group exercise classes, and personal training. Atop eight indoor courts and three outdoor courts, a fleet of tennis pros enacts lessons anchored in players' strengths. They specialize in QuickStart tennis, a recently minted method of play that emphasizes building the skills and confidence of child athletes without serving them trophy-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Within the walls of an 11,000-square-foot fitness center, personal trainer Kyle Waters shepherds clients through two downstairs cardio rooms with Star Trac treadmills and several weight rooms loaded with Cybex Eagle and Hammer Strength machines. Inside two studios upstairs, health gurus conduct classes in everything from yoga to step aerobics to kickboxing.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
Mount Pleasant of Edinboro offers 10 challenging trails for skiers of all skill levels. Steady shaky knees and flailing poles during a one-hour group lesson with one of the resort's seasoned pros, and then hitch a ride on the beginner lift to sail smoothly down the gently sloping Meadow trail on your pair of rented powder-skimmers. For $10, upgrade your lift ticket to take on more challenging slopes such as Revere Ride, named in honor of Trojan War hero Ajax Revere, or refuel with hot cocoa and other belly-fillers in the lodge. While not included in today's deal, customizable private lessons are also available through Mount Pleasant's Rent-a-Pro program.
Established in 1905, The Country Club of Meadville is a not-for-profit organization with more than 100 years of experience catering to links lovers' golfing needs. As part of the club's 2011 membership drive, today's deal lets buyers enjoy the perks of membership for a day, including 18 holes of golf, cart rental, and dispensation to wear plaid and argyle in the same outfit. The par 72 course runs 6,800 yards from the back tees, and the club uses the USGA Ghin handicap system, allowing exciting play between players of all skill levels. Golfers also get access to the clubhouse and restaurant, opening the door to defeat-assuaging drinks in the cozy lounge or victory-celebrating feasts in the family dining room (food and drink are not covered by this Groupon). A certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, the course ensconces golfers in a pristine environment unspoiled by overdevelopment or cackling animatronic gophers.