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.
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.
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.
Normally the den of the vacationing Tucson Toros, Hi Corbett Field throws open its doors to a rotating cast of minor-league and wood bat-wielding college teams for a summer of sportsmanship under the lights. On Thirsty Thursday, spectators stake out real estate behind home plate for bouts between visiting sluggers before decamping to the concession stands for $1 beers from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The stadium’s savvy staff augments on-field action with various theme nights throughout the summer, enlivening each game with special events such as the June 16 early Father’s Day celebration, the June 30 Jersey Shore bash, or the July 7 Census Taker Appreciation Night.
Since forming in the 1920s, the Harlem Globetrotters have continued to entertain millions of parents, children, and general basketball admirers with a trademark blend of athletic precision and razzle-dazzle showmanship. For the team's 2014 tour, a rotating roster of Globetrotter favorites—including three female players—takes to the hardwood each game. Spectators might spot veteran guard TNT sharing a behind-the-back pass with dunker Quake, whose high jump once cleared 7 feet, cruelly dashing his dreams of working in a ceiling-fan store. The Globetrotters might also present a study in contrasts with 5-foot-2 Too Tall and 7-foot-4 Stretch, the team’s tallest member.
During each Globetrotters game, youngsters laugh along and witness the jovial jocks performing classic routines of unconventional passing and sudden transmutations of water into confetti. To infuse their visits with an extra shot of unpredictability, the Globetrotters also let fans in each city vote on special rules for every game; past rules have included the use of a four-point shot and the installation of a penalty box. Over the years, similar antics have followed the Globetrotters around the world, including to 122 countries and territories and all six continents on which basketballs grow naturally. The Globetrotters’ extensive travels haven’t gone unnoticed: they’re one of the few teams to earn a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as ambassadors of the sport.
Michael Huhn founded Desert Divers to share the love of diving he cultivated while swimming among the menagerie of colorful sea life in the warm, limpid waters of the Sea of Cortez. Over the past 30 years, he’s 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.