As members of the Coastal Plain League, a confederation of top college players staying hot for the summer, the Wilson Tobs kick off the 2012 season with a matchup against their North Division rivals, the Petersburg Generals. In the past, the Tobs' roster has helped cultivate such star players as current Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander. This year, Clemson first baseman Joe Costigan returns to the Tobs dugout along with St. Louis University pitcher Jon Levin, whose four wins tied for the team lead in 2011. The Tobs kick off their cleats at their home field, Fleming Stadium, a hallowed park whose 73-year history has seen appearances by the likes of Elvis Presley—the King himself—and Mickey Mantle—a player notorious for gyrating his hips before every swing.
Flakes of ice float through the frosty air, twinkling in the light. Rosy-cheeked children skate across the glittery ice, clutching their parents' gloved hands and shrieking gleefully. Though it seems as though it belongs in the pages of a winter fairy tale, this is the scene of a typical July afternoon at Polar Ice House. The hot summer sun burns brightly outside, but the temperature inside the vast indoor ice rink remains a brisk 45 degrees.
Although the wintry conditions make the rink a less than ideal venue for a bikini fashion show, the cold environment is perfect for the skating lessons, hockey games, and public-skating and hockey sessions that the rink hosts year-round. The center's attentive instructors lead students of all ages and experience levels through fundamental skating skills, progressing to advanced techniques, such as jumping, spinning, and karate chopping aggressive abominable snowmen, once students have mastered the basics. Expert coaches captain hockey leagues for adults and youths alike and helm instructional courses and hockey camps.
Hundreds of decks, shoes, and skateboards from brands such as Mystery, Slave, and Emerica crowd the shelves of Delicious Skateboard Shop, all clamoring for their inauguration at the store's 25,000 square feet of skate-park space. Divided into two levels, the Factory Skateboard Park's indoor area accommodates beginners on an upper floor with 3-foot banks and low ledges as seasoned boarders soar over 9-foot ramps, grind down seven-stair handrails, and skim over pyramids' tombs of mummies wrapped in kneepads. Outside, concrete obstacles challenge tricksters as they build up speed on a concrete bowl and snake run. Along with arming pupils with skills and new tricks during lessons and summer camps, the staff of expert skaters also hosts birthday parties in which revelers attempt to blow out the candles by ollying over the cake.
At Jellybeans Skate Center, lights dance over a maple hardwood floor. The focal point of the family-friendly center, the sprawling surface beckons skaters to take a spin on its sleek expanse as they twirl, practice backward maneuvers, or play vinyl Frisbee with the DJ during his break. Elsewhere, the snack bar refuels skaters with cookies, popcorn, and pizza, and a fun center buzzes with air hockey and arcade games.
A forest of punching bags dangles from the rafters at Sweat Functional Fitness Training, where athletes throw jabs and hooks as instructors motivate them to push to their limits during each workout. Modeled after boxing training, the workouts supplement floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee with strength training and kettlebell drills to light the path toward slimmer and stronger physiques. Patrons of all ages and fitness levels are welcome, and the goal of the fast-paced workouts is not to train championship fighters, but to inspire fit-seekers to whip into peak physical condition.
Like the plot of Rocky, Sweat Functional Fitness Training revolves around boxing, but has something for everybody. The trainers also lead fitness classes in TRX suspension training and kettlebell training, in addition to high-intensity indoor and outdoor boot camps.
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.
You slide into the starting position, gripping the rope. For a moment, your eyes wander, surveying the white sand beaches and clear waters that surround you. High on a mast above, a cable carrier hooks the other end of your rope—with a tug, you launch into the water. Without the hum of a boat's outboard motor, you're free to concentrate on the sound of your wakeboard cutting the water's surface as you prepare to lift out of the rippling waves and off the first jump.
This is the introduction wake-boarders and wake-skaters at Hexagon Water Park receive when they set out on the flexible cable that winds through the Tucker Lake obstacle course at high speeds. In this controlled environment, instructors help riders of all ages master the particulars of extreme water sports, such as how to stand and when to give ducks the right of way. Beside the cable park, other visitors explore the open water aboard stand-up paddleboats and kayaks. Visitors can also explore beachside attractions such as water slides, rope swings, and inflatable climbing structures.