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.
Though the same catfish logo still peeks out from a red "C," its barbels draping over the side, the Carolina Mudcats are part of a new era of minor-league baseball in North Carolina. Two years after the original franchise left for Pensacola, Florida, in 2010, a new team arrived in Zebulon to don the signature red jerseys. As the new Mudcats spawned, so too did new affiliations—the team is now the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the MLB's Cleveland Indians, and mascot Muddy the Mudcat now trolls the stands of Five County Stadium, where a 300-square-foot videoboard broadcasts instant replays of the outfielders' most breathtaking stretches.
Boy-band juggernaut and Nickelodeon sensation Big Time Rush shines like the sun’s sons as its hotly anticipated Big Time Summer Tour enraptures flocks of fans with pop bliss. The fab foursome, known as BTR to fans and preteen stenographers, first snatched the hearts of millions with its eponymous TV show, recognized as the most-watched live-action series in Nickelodeon’s history. On the group's choreographed carnival of a tour, expert hoofer and crooner Kendall Schmidt leads the affable cast of personalities, which includes James (the ladies' man), Carlos (the joker), and Logan (the smarty warty), through hits from its gold debut, BTR. Their chart-topping sophomore album, Elevate, will also see its hooky anthems represented, such as “Music Sounds Better With U” and “All Over Again.” Expect elastic dance moves from the dapper quadratic and possible numbers from the just-released Big Time Movie, in which BTR covers tunes by obscure boy band The Beatles. Wunderkind Rachel Crow of The X-Factor fame and Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson start the show with peppy rallies and aural morality plays about how love can be tough and why stealing your dad’s head to sneak into R-rated movies isn’t cool.
Despite their determinedly of-the-moment sound, RedFoo and SkyBlu are carrying on a long pop lineage: the former is Motown founder Berry Gordy's son, the latter his grandson. As red-hot electropop duo LMFAO, the uncle-nephew pairing electrifies dance floors with manic odes to party life. The 2012 Sorry for Party Rocking tour explodes with fan favorites such as "Party Rock Anthem" and newer hits such as "Sexy and I Know It," whose bouncy swagger dominated the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 28 weeks. The band parades in neon animal prints amid backup dancers, bobbing beneath giant robot heads, tossing inflatables into the crowd, and creating a spectacle Metro Weekly calls "enormously entertaining."
South Main Speedway lets customers mix and match rounds of mini golf and go-kart racing to fashion a full day of family-friendly recreation. Clamber into a one- or two-seater speed machine to race friends, loved ones, and renegade Mario Kart characters for 15 ferocious laps around the Speedway’s sinuous track (a $6 value/race). Then, head to the outdoor putt-putt course (a $6 value/game) to send dimpled balls skittering past squat shrubs, plashing waterfalls, and nostalgic windmill operators into 18 waiting holes. The Groupon's eight games or races can be parceled out to multiple people on a single day, facilitating bonding within families or semipro hide-and-seek teams. Afterward, venture outside to browse The Factory's complex of shops, restaurants, and sports facilities.
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.
For more than 10 years, the enthusiastic instructors of Elite Cheer and Dance have been teaching kids to leap, tumble, and electrify a crowd. Timid beginners and seasoned cheerleaders alike are welcomed into the center's spacious gym to realize their fitness potential and make new friends. Whether it's the eye-catching cheers, the Olympics-inspired routines of tumbling, or the graceful moves of dance, the classes work together to make kids stronger, more confident, and less likely to notice when the planet's gravity turns off.