Over the years, the University of Arizona’s athletic teams have been linked together by one phrase: “bear down.” Now the official battle cry of the Wildcats, those were the dying words of an iconic student-athlete, John “Button” Salmon, who died in 1926 after a fatal car accident. Since then, the phrase has stood behind countless milestone moments, such as when Lute Olson, in 1983, became the 11th head coach of the Wildcats men’s basketball team, setting off a string of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances—including a national title in 1997. Several other national titles belong to Arizona outside of the hardwood, including four from the men’s baseball team and eight from the women’s softball program. Every fall inside Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats football team rouses up to 56,000 fans with hard-hitting Pac-12 showdowns, by far the most popular event on campus behind the linguistics department’s weekly phonetics bee.
The cultural traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have enlivened Tucson for more than a quarter century thanks to the Tucson Celtic Festival & Scottish Highland Games. Along with traditional music, dancing, and food, guests can also witness feats of athletic prowess during the internationally sanctioned Scottish Highland Games. The traditional event features activities such as a caber toss, which consists of participants lifting and throwing gargantuan wooden poles so that they land parallel to the thrower but not touching any of their vital organs, and Highland croquet, substituting the usual equipment with bowling balls and sledgehammers. If any questions as to the event?s authenticity remain, one need only look to the audience for confirmation: each year sees 30 to 40 Scottish clans come together to celebrate their heritage.
After joining the National League's West Division in 1998, it only took four seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks to become World Series champions, making them the fastest expansion team to win it all in MLB history. Since then, the D-backs faithful continue to fill the stands of Chase Field, a 48,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark constructed for the team's inaugural season. The widest LED board in Major League Baseball replays crucial saves and high-flying hits in 136'x46' of high-definition glory, and just beyond the fence in right-center field, a swimming pool allows fans armed with foam noodles to whack opponents' home runs back into play. During the fourth inning of every game, kids can interact with D. Baxter the Bobcat in his upper-concourse Den equipped with slides and batting cages.
Celebrating their ninth season of bone-jarring hits, the lady-led squads of the skater-run, nonprofit Tucson Roller Derby thrill crowds with supersonic skating, cringe-worthy spills, and multiplayer pileups. During each event, two 60-minute bouts pin rival troops against each other for full-contact, closely refereed matches set apart by halftime performances and redirection of confused zambonis. In a battle for home-team territory, three local packs, much like highly competitive circus clowns, seek to defend the circular combat zone, including the Furious Truckstop Waitresses, the Copper Queens, and 2010's crowd favorites, the Vice Squad. As an added bonus, this season marks the inaugural campaign of the league's second travel team, the Bandoleras, who debut on December 17.
For years, the lights above the Tucson Speedway would stay dark at night, since the track cracked in the harsh light of day. That all changed in 2012, when START Tucson LLC acquired the facility and set out to resurface the track, upgrade the lighting and PA systems, replace wood throughout the bleachers, and welcome racers and fans to the fabled oval. Today, stock engines roar past cheering fans as drivers speed around the 3/8-mile track, with the fastest drivers taking the checkered flag and last-place vehicles clawed by pursuing lions. The track hosts a wide range of car classes, including mini stocks that cram the horsepower of a full-size racecar into a smaller frame, and Hornet-class contests that showcase beginning racers facing off in Late Model rides.
Mike and his son Alex both enthusiastically share their combined 45 years of know-how and love of diving with all who are bold enough to strike out on an underwater adventure! Over the past 30 years, Mike has recruited a staff of dedicated instructors that schools nascent underwater explorers in introductory lessons and intensive scuba-certification classes. The staff members equip students with most necessary gear for the classes, which cover maritime topics ranging from first aid and fish identification to deep diving and how to fashion sleeping octopuses into temporary helmets. Many classes require that participants first take an open-water scuba course, which bestows diving fundamentals and can eventually lead to certification. The center welcomes all past open-water students back for free refresher courses, helping former pupils sharpen their skills in advance of upcoming dives and snorkel-throwing tournaments. To further refine aquatic abilities, Desert Divers leads new graduates out on field trips to such dive-friendly locales as San Carlos, Mexico, and Key Largo, Florida.