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.
Though the city's name would seem to suggest otherwise, Independence residents must still—by law—interact with each other occasionally. Luckily, Independence Events Center serves to bring the community together, hosting everything from national concert tours to youth hockey leagues within its walls. Such stars as Kelly Clarkson have graced the stage within the 5,800-seat arena, also home to local sports teams such as the Central Hockey League's Missouri Mavericks and the Major Indoor Soccer League's Missouri Comets. Additionally, a community rink lets residents and nonresidents alike hit the ice for programs ranging from open-skating sessions and lessons to private rentals for Civil War reenactments.
Zipping at a faster pace and racking up higher scores than their grass-stained outdoor cousins, the iconic Missouri Comets streak through MISL play from the inner orbit of the new Independence Events Center. From their midfield seats, footsport fans can enjoy an unobstructed view as they brush up on their knowledge of indoor soccer, which features six players to a side, legal plays off of walled sidelines, and the frenzied neon lights of the multi-ball round. Visitors will get to cheer on the newly resurrected team led by former Danish soccer star Kim Roentved as they go head-to-head against the Chicago Riot or the Omaha Vipers—teams that weave Midwestern footwork narratives that rival the toe-typed tales of "Handless" Studs Terkel.
A 36-month-old strokes his arms through clear water as his mother gently holds him afloat with her hands. Over the past few swim sessions, the little student has learned to submerge his face in the water and float on his belly as well as his back. After he and his fellow swimmers finish their parent/baby swimester, it's likely they may never experience the fear of swimming that many children begin to encounter around age 3. This type of insight into the developmental importance of swimming is what informs the instruction at Swim-U, Leesburg's child-oriented swimming school. The school's curriculum opens its lessons to newborns as young as 6 months old and to kids up to age 12 to instill water skills and the joys of fitness swimming from a young age. The Swim-U team comprises upbeat swimming professors who are the brains behind the company's special brand of instruction in swimming, as well as in child CPR and first-aid training and dunk-tank pitching.