Chicagoland Baseball Academy's 5,000-square-foot training facility reverberates with the clink of balls ricocheting off aluminum bats, the pop of pitches hurtling into practice nets, and the cries of “Got it!” from fielders communicating a pop fly. Owned by longtime baseball trainer and high-school head coach Bill Rosencrans, the Academy helps players improve their games through lessons that isolate essential skills such as power throwing and executing double plays. To ensure each athlete plays to his or her full potential, classes also focus on regular core training, using ropes, medicine balls, and plyometrics to keep bodies in top shape.
Go-karts roar across the racetrack, bumper boats collide, and the cracking sound of confined home runs rings out from batting cages. This multisensory symphony fills the landscaped grounds of Fun Time Square, where attraction after attraction beckons visitors of all ages to kiddie train rides, 18 holes of mini golf, and the blinking lights of pinball machines in the onsite arcade. More intense thrills unfold at a paintball field, where abandoned cars, inflated cover, and war-torn art teachers guard players from enemy paint.
Outside, snow falls, wind rattles leaf-less branches, and winter blankets the landscape. Then the crack of the bat rings out. That sound of summer is available all year long at Stella's, which offers heated indoor batting cages in the winter and open-air outdoor cages in the summer. An onsite bats and gloves shop outfits players with stacks of Easton and Wilson A2000 mitts and Louisville Slugger and DeMarini bats.
As the sight of pop flies and line drives keep summer always within reach, so too do the aromas of Vienna hot dogs, bratwursts, and burgers wafting through the air. Stella's restaurant also provides ball players and their families with homemade Italian ice and soft-serve ice cream. To celebrate turning another year older or finally getting zombie Babe Ruth on the team, Stella's offers party packages that include good eats, game tokens, and batting cages.
Tri-Fitness's duo of certified trainers help clients, from athletes to those who have never exercised, build their personal fitness through both functional and sports-specific training methods. As the conditioning and speed coach for the Chicago Force women's football team, Tri-Fitness founder Ron Munvez specializes in helping athletes such as runners, golfers, and baseball players fine-tune their bodies for peak performance. He and fellow trainer Brian Lyons lead a vigorous boot-camp program and TRX Suspension classes whose exercise machines use the exerciser’s own body weight to build and tone muscle, accommodating clients of all ages and fitness levels. The recently expanded facility houses a collection of modern fitness equipment, including weighted kettlebells, Schwinn stationary bikes, and giant steel hamster wheels.
The organizers of Double Denim Bar Crawl have two goals: raise awareness of autism and have fun doing it. Their yearly bar crawls through historic Wrigleyville, which take place during Austism Awareness Month, gather revelers suited up from head to toe in denim jeans, jackets, and shirts to let loose amid raffles, dance-offs, and debates on the cultural degradation caused by khaki. Contests including kiddie-cocktail races and a rock-paper-scissors tournament complement prizes for best and worst double denim, denim princess, and being a HugeParty. Celebrants can feel good about every sudsy libation they imbibe, too, since profits of the crawl go to Young Professional Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding autism research, spreading awareness, and advocating for the individuals and families affected by autism.
For nearly two decades, On-Deck Baseball Academy has been prepping ballplayers for life on the diamond with guidance from veteran instructors and training in versatile drill cages. After adjusting to the player's height and preferred pitching speed, Iron Mike pitching machines hurl fastballs down center plate; for a more authentic game-day experience, players can test their skill against a human pitcher in the live cage.
Hitting isn’t the only skill taught at the sprawling baseball complex. Inside the 120-foot toss cage, catchers can practice throwing out base runners stealing second or brushing back batters who get too close to their personal space. In one-on-one instructional sessions, former players devote their undivided attention to students, teaching them fundamentals and correcting their pitching and fielding techniques. These lessons take place in skill-development cages outfitted with movable mounds, pitching targets, and L-screen protection.