Beneath Sprint Center's lights and rafters, the Command cruise up and down arena football's condensed gridiron during a trio of hard-hitting skirmishes. A slow start to the 2012 season has forced head coach Danton Barto to shift gears on the fly and acquire former NFL quarterback Matt Gutierrez. Rather than constructing a Lego statue of himself on the 30-yard line, Gutierrez opted to make his mark on the field by throwing for five touchdowns during his Kansas City debut on April 7, including three to second-year receiver Bradly Chavez. During breaks in the action, the Command Girls dance team charges the field, distracting opponents from eavesdropping on team huddles or playing makeshift games of Jenga with the end-zone pylons.
While a part of the NAIA, the William Jewell Cardinals athletic teams were a force. The football team was the association’s first to reach 500 victories, and the women’s soccer team appeared in the NAIA National Soccer Championship five times between 2003 and 2010. William Jewell has since transitioned to the Division II level of the NCAA, where it competes as part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The move brought upon several changes, most notably a slate of new opponents and permission to open the "Division II" chapter of their playbooks. The Cardinals continue to host visiting squads at Greene Stadium for football and soccer contests and Talley Baseball Stadium for nine-inning duels.
At Sk8away, kids and families whirl around a colorful roller rink during birthday parties and after-school or weekend outings, dancing to music under the illumination of glowing globes and neon lights. Guests recharge at the snack bar before heading back out on the rink or watching local roller-derby teams race to victory.
As speeding wakeboarders bail from their runs, plunging into the water as the tow cables snap away from their grasp, no boats will ever circle back to pick them up. They're not stranded, however, because at KC Watersports, overhead cables pull riders along the water instead, ushering them toward the rails and ramps peppering the 7.5-acre lake. Families cheer on water-skiers from the beach, grab bites at the snack shack, or fasten water-skis on hot dogs and get them to race. Beginner sessions feature slower cable speeds to acclimate newcomers to the wakes, and the camp's sets of sliders and kickers challenge veterans to pull off new, more impressive stunts than merely back-flipping over a human pyramid. Back on shore, spectators can cheer on athletes from shaded beach or grab bites at the snack shack, and an onsite pro shop stocks rental or retail gear from brands such as Liquid Force, Body Glove, Go Pro, and Master Craft.
At Midwest Aquatics, no one lounges poolside. Instead, students, 10 years old or older, learn scuba skills such as buoyancy control, underwater breathing, and aquatic movement in an on-site pool custom built for diving. Highly certified and trained instructors draw on more than two decades of scuba experience to teach underwater exploration in courses that range from introductory scuba sessions to open water dives, complete with off-site certification dives in locales such as Bali, Curacao, and local brewery tanks.