The Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center conceals a chilly oasis for winter-sports fans to practice and have fun all year long, whether it's the day after Christmas or a steamy 100-degree afternoon in July. Between its two rinks, the center hosts staff-supervised public-skating sessions nearly every day in addition to a wide range of youth and adult hockey events—including practices for the former AHL champion Houston Aeros. Inside Rink A, a spacious seating area and café invites visitors to break from their icy escapades and reenergize with a snack. Also away from the ice, the onsite pro shop sharpens blades and repairs skates so clients can carve their way across rinks and the halls of imposing ice castles.
Play It Again Sports, a national franchise, hosts a sports-savvy staff that dedicates itself to providing growing athletes with new and used equipment from brands such as Easton, Rawlings, and Reebok. Shoppers can step up to bat with a cudgel from Easton ($19.99+) or pick up a frolfing disk ($3.99 used; $7.99 new) and never again waste an afternoon hammering golf balls flat. Play It Again Sports stocks its athletic arsenal with the help of its customers, offering buybacks for store credit, trade-ups for extra savings, and a lucrative bounty on baseballs saved from the maws of neighborhood dogs.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Diving behind a stack of paint-splattered tires on the speedball field, the player catches his breath before unleashing fire on an opponent, who peeks out from behind a wooden spool. Next, they weave through brush-lined trails and take aim from lean-tos on the castle course or crawl through the tubes that throng the hyperball field. Before they commence these bouts on one of Brazos Splat Games' five fields, however, guests shield themselves in protective goggles and ready their semiautomatic markers in the netted staging area. Trained referees oversee 15- to 30-minute games that rotate through a variety of scenarios including Capture the Flag, Elimination, and Name That Rembrandt.
Tennis Express's knowledgeable staff helps equip tennis players with the right racquet, outfit, or accessory from a large stock of men's and women's gear. A men's tennis polo ($40) dresses players in Dri-FIT technology that wicks moisture and opponents' intimidating grunts from the body, and the women's Nike tennis skirt ($50) boasts stretch fabric and hem vents for added mobility. Athletes keep perfectly feathered coifs away from eyes with Lacoste headbands ($9) and blisters off feet wearing Adidas full-cushioned, no-show tennis socks ($20). Customers can tote newly acquired gear in the Wilson tennis backpack ($50), which is large enough to hold two racquets, shoes, extra clothes, and an inflatable partner for spontaneous doubles matches.
The veteran submerged seafarers at Sea Sports Scuba can instruct any landlubber on the basics of underwater breathing in a safe, welcoming environment. At each lesson, a wise, PADI-certified instructor will dish the fundamental tenets of the dive and marine astronomy. Students will dive into the provided gear and equipment before diving into a heated indoor pool for practice. In one 60- to 120-minute session, submariners will be primed to move on to more-advanced sunken adventures and confidently curse humanoid ancestors for voting to phase out gills.