Spanning Nashville to bring you the constant variety of sports, we offer our readers the Weekend Warriors’ Guide, an extensive guide to athletic opportunities in Nashville. Whether you play cricket, rugby, tennis, soccer or hardball, you’ll find numerous outlets for all your competitive juices. Glow is dedicated to health and wellness, after all, and we at the Scene believe that nothing restores harmony and balance to the mind, body and spirit more than a good game. Have at it.
One of the nation’s newest and fastest growing competitive sports, AR is an all-terrain multi-athlon involving two or more people and lasting anywhere from several hours to several days. The races can involve elements that range from orienteering to trail trekking to biking (and anything else appropriate to the environment in which the race is being run). Best of all, Nashville already has its own adventure racing club.
NashvAR (Nashville Adventure Racing) came into existence a year ago when local adventure racer Patrick Bair introduced a few outdoor enthusiasts to the sport. Before long, Bair formed the club to gather folks to train and compete together. Today, there are over 250 people on NashvAR’s contact list with nearly a third of them actively racing. Although there are four annual races in the state, events also take the NashvAR crew to Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Missouri. Entry fees for a race can range from $50 all the way to $10,000 for the Eco-Challenge. Top finishers receive cash and racing-related prizes. There are no fees for membership in NashvAR, but the organization does take donations from its participants to continue educating the city (and its members) about the sport. The group meets at least once a month to exchange information on upcoming events and occasionally invites guest speakers to discuss relevant topics (everything from training to nutrition). For information on getting involved with the newest thing in outdoor sports, visit the club’s Web site at www.NashvAr.org, or contact Patrick Bair at 397-2094.
Australian Rules Football
Entering their sixth year of existence in the U.S. Australian Rules Football League, the Nashville Kangaroos are one of the premier Aussie rules (a.k.a. footy) clubs in the nation. The ’Roos ended their 2002 season with a 16-2 record and a No. 2 ranking in the 36-team league. But their mission goes well beyond the scope of a national championship trophy. In August 1999, the club obtained nonprofit status with the goals of promoting footy in Nashville and the mid-South, promoting Australian/American relations and hosting the Nashville Kangaroos Australian Festival and Aussie Rules Tournamentnow one of the nation’s largest Australian festivals. The club maintains a membership of over 100 and an active roster of 30 players. Despite their reputation as a footy powerhouse, the Kangaroos welcome new players interested in giving the sport a go. Club memberships range in cost from $10-$120.
Looking ahead to the 2003 season, the ’Roos training commences April 1, with their opening match in Cincinnati on April 26. Their first home match is May 31 against the St. Louis Blues. Check their Web site at www.nashvillekangaroos.org for a full schedule. You can catch home games at Elmington Park (3531 West End Avenue). For more information on the Nashville Kangaroos, call 460-1401.
Thanks to two amateur baseball leagues here in Nashville, you can abandon the bleachers for the diamond and play hardball yourself. The National Adult Baseball Association (NABA), based out of Denver, Colo., is an adult hardball organization with chapters in 35 states. The league invites players 18 years and older to compete in a season of baseball, complete with umpires, uniforms and post-season tournaments. Mike Ipsen runs the Nashville chapter of the league, consisting of eight to 10 teams each year with up to 25 men on a roster. Play is held at diamonds in Granny White Park and the Shelbyville Recreation Department. The spring/summer season begins at the end of April and runs through mid-August and includes a 20-game regular season that climaxes with a tournament to determine a league champion. There is also a shortened fall season with a 10-game schedule (but no postseason). The league accepts entire teams or individuals looking for placement on a first-pay-first-play basis. The cost to join is $20 per person to the NABA for insurance purposes and $1500 per team to cover baseballs, umpires’ fees, insurance and field privileges for the year. To join, contact Mike Ipsen at 333-9079.
The Sandlott Wood Bat League exists to “meet the needs of the serious baseball player,” according to its commissioner, Mickey Hiter. Sandlott consists primarily of college players looking to keep their skills sharp in the off-season as well as recent graduates hoping to play their way into the minor and major leagues. Each summer, players and coaches come from all over the country to partake in Hiter’s league, which consists of a 30-game regular season, followed by a state and regional tournament and concluding with the World Series in Battle Creek, Mich. New members who make it through a mid-May tryout will be placed in the league draft.
If you think you’ve got the stuff, contact Mickey Hiter by May 1 at 226-7005 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The Green Hills YMCA (4041 Hillsboro Circle) runs a very popular women’s league from March 15-May 17 with one game per week, played on Sunday afternoons. Registration for teams and individuals continues through the month of February and costs $400 per team, $50 for individuals. (Single players will be placed by league directors.) The men’s division starts in June, with registration beginning May 1. Teams can have up to 12 players on their roster to help pay the $400 entry fee. To join, call the Green Hills YMCA at 297-6529.
The Franklin Recreation Center (1120 Hillsboro Road) runs several open basketball leagues with play available at varying skill levels. The Men’s Monday night league is comprised of 16 teams and is recommended for advanced players. To enter, each team pays an entry fee of $400; games continue year round. The 35-and-over and intermediate divisions, each with approximately eight teams, play on Sundays at the Recreation Center. On Tuesdays, the women’s open division takes the court, where eight teams battle for supremacy. For information on basketball leagues at the Franklin Recreation Center, contact Mike Devine at 370-3471, ext. 17.
Not only does boxing require rigorous aerobic conditioning to endure a fight’s one- to three-minute rounds, but work on punching bags aids in the development of muscle tone and definition. Unfortunately, an old school boxing gym isn’t to be found in Nashville, but there are some close cousins to the sport to help get you in shape.
Boxing’s martial arts (and nouveau-aerobics) cousin kickboxing can be found in nearly every gym in town. Like the sweet science, it employs the use of heavy bags, but combines it with leg kicks and sometimes music. Though it’s rare to find a gym that offers each individual his or her own heavy bag for an entire workout, an exception is Universal Boxing in 100 Oaks Mall. Classes are held weekdays in the morning, afternoon and evening as well as Saturday mornings. The cost is between $45-$59 per month and includes unlimited class visits. For more information, call Universal Boxing at 298-9775.
At Knockout Fitness gym (Cummins Station, Ste. 145), Frank Wood, a semi-retired pro fighter, has taken some of the cornerstones of a boxer’s old-fashioned regimen and transformed it into a personal workout for his clients. Determined to keep his operation small in order to give each student personal attention, Wood covers everything from the use of heavy bags for strength and conditioning to proficiency in speed bags for endurance and agility. Students are not taught with the intention of fighting other students and sparring sessions only occur upon the request of a student. Males make up only a slightly higher percentage of students in a given class, which averages 10-12 people. Classes last one hour and run three times per week. Cost is $60 per month, with a one-time private lesson required for $35. Private lessons are also available for $50 each. Contact Frank Wood at 255-1359.
World Cup fever is upon usonly this time it’s not soccer. It’s cricket! While the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa will go largely unnoticed in the States this February, interest in the sport is on the rise here, thanks to ex-pats from such cricket-adoring countries as India, Pakistan, South Africa, England and the West Indies. Several groups have formed in recent years to fill the cricket void in Nashville, but not without some impediments. The main obstacle? According to members of two area clubs, it’s the problem of securing a proper cricket ground.
Rajwardhan Yadav captains the first of two Nashville Cricket Clubs, consisting of 25 members largely comprised of working professionals and students in the Vanderbilt community, most of whom are Indian or Pakistani. Yadav hopes to host a tournament with representatives from clubs all over the Southeast, but right now the club is limited in what they can do until a ground solely for cricket can be reserved. Until then, the club will practice at Whites Creek High School on Saturdays this spring. For more information, call Yadav at 292-2609 or visit www.groups.yahoo.com/group/nashvillecricket for NCC updates.
Naveed Khan, president of a second Nashville Cricket Club, says his started informally at family picnics in Edwin Warner Park. “Lacking a suitable cricket ground and equipment,” Khan muses, “we would bring along a lawn mower to the picnic area, pick out a level area to play on and improvise with a taped-up tennis ball.” The group has now organized into a more formal club, and like Yadav’s, is currently working with Metro Parks to find a flat piece of ground to call home. The upcoming season begins in mid-March and anyone is welcome to join. For more information, visit www.nashvillecricketclub.com.
Probably your best chance to catch a formal cricket match in Nashville is during the Nashville Kangaroos’ Annual Australian Festival at Elmington Park. In addition to showcasing rugby and Aussie Rules football, the fall festival holds a formal cricket tournament. Information on the festival is available at nashvillekangaroos.org or by calling 460-1401.
“I’ve been cycling competitively for 20 years,” says 48-year-old state road race champion, Robert Gregory, a member of Gran Fondo Bike Shop’s (5205 Harding Road, 354-1090) Master’s Team. “We’re one big family.” You could also call Gran Fondo’s nine-person Master’s Team a family of champions. (Seven of the nine are state champs.) “No doubt,” says Gran Fondo owner Lynn Greer, “this is the strongest master’s team aroundand it is very exclusive.”
But don’t feel left out if you’re not one of the state’s top riders. Gran Fondo’s Backyard Burgers are sure to whet your competitive appetite with their Category 1 (beginner) through Category 5 (elite) teams. (Post-training consumption of burgers is optional.) Hungry to join? Visit online at www.bybcycling.com. Team Bike Peddlar, sponsored by the Bike Peddlar Shop, also sponsors a popular team (2910 West End Avenue, 329-2453).
But even if you aren’t a member of a cycling club, avid riders have plenty of racing options. On May 10-11, the McMinnville Race in McMinnville, Tenn., is the first prestigious race of the season. For a warm up, you might want to try Raccoon Mountain on April 13. “It’s a course around Lookout Mountain that has a lot of charactera 25-mile loop filled with climbs that’s an enjoyable test,” says Greer. If climbing is your thing, than the Roan Groan (June 1) is in your wheelhouse. A 35-mile race that’s sure to make you “groan,” it climaxes with a nine-mile ascent to the finish. Sprint to the end of the summer season in White House, Tenn., for the Hot Sumner Road Races (Aug. 30). For a complete listing of statewide road and mountain bike races, visit www.tbra.org.
For a more leisurely approach to the sport, join the 300-plus members Harpeth Bike Club. You can sign up online at www.harpethbikeclub.com/bicycle.htm. For a yearly fee of $20, become part of a network of cyclists who, in the words of President Teresa Lewin, “ride for fun but are competitive with themselves.” The club organizes rides on Tuesday nights and Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. There is also a mountain biking division. Mark your calendar for the Harpeth River Century on the third weekend in June, and take your pick among the 25, 62 or even 100-mile rides. In July, there is a Surf ’n’ Turf ride (cycling followed by canoeing). The Catfish Ride, also held during the summer, incorporates an afternoon of cycling and boating. (The club sponsors camping trips and hiking throughout the year.) Finally, if you’re a new rider, the club sponsors a 25-mile beginner’s ride every Sunday morning with an emphasis on teaching the basics of the road.
A popular place to train, take lessons or rent horses is the Spirit Horse Stables located on 2130 Joe Brown Road in Spring Hill (25 minutes from downtown Nashville). Owner Judy Schwartz describes Spirit Horse as, “a place where you can train for shows or jumping at any level, go to riding camp, or take a leisurely trail ride.” Spirit Horse Stables focuses on training small groups of no more than four at a time for maximum attention. For $30, an hour-long beginner’s lesson incorporates 15 minutes of “groundwork” (focusing on the art of grooming and bridling a horse), followed by 45 minutes in the saddle. “We get adults coming in every day to ride for the first time,” Schwartz says. “They are attracted to equestrian because you don’t have to be in great shape, and it’s a big stress reliever that works both your mind and body.” Call 599-9906 for more information.
For a comprehensive listing of national and regional competitions and shows, visit www.equestrian.org. The Central Tennessee Horseman’s Association puts on four shows per year. For the spectator, there is of course the Iroquois Steeplechase on the second Saturday in May, sponsored by Warner Parks and benefiting the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
Not only does Nashville have a fencing phenom (Case Szarwark, 18, is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation), but excellent outlets to learn the sport as well. The Nashville Fencing Academy, located at 961 Woodland St., offers both public and private lessons in addition to training superstars like Szarwark. Certified coach Doug Harris encourages people interested in fencing to give it a stab for both its mental and physical challengesnot to mention the fact that it’s the oldest modern sport in Western Civilization. Call 650-6665 for information.
If you’re looking for a less intense and slightly less pricey training experience, try Cumberland Escrime, which runs classes every Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Cohn High School (4805 Park Avenue). The 10-week session highlights basic strategies and focuses on enjoyment of the sport. Contact Chip Moore at 612-2143 for more information.
If you want to see fencers in action, twice a year the Vanderbilt Fencing Club sponsors fencing tournaments open to the public: The Cumberland Open (Feb. 1) and the Dean Richard Memorial Tournament (named after a Vanderbilt sabre fencer who died tragically in a motorcycle accident). The latter is tentatively scheduled for October/November 2003. Contact Tricia Felderman at 421-4052 for information.
For a comprehensive listing of area tournaments, visit online at www.usfencing.org and follow links to Tennessee. The Web site also provides national tournament information. (Note to closet swordsmen: It’s not too late to begin training for the US Fencing Nationals July 4-6 in Austin, Texas.)
The Percy Priest Sport Fishing Club is a local organization that helps promote angling and conservation in Middle Tennessee, particularly on Percy Priest Lake. The PPSFC arranges cash and prize tournaments for its members from March through October each year. Social gatherings often surround fishing events and the club accepts anyone interested in the values of angling and family. Tournaments and fishing events are put on every two weeks during the summer. To learn more, contact Michelle Griggs at 890-6092 or visit online at www.ppsfc.com.
For fly-fisherman, explore either the Nashville chapter of Trout Unlimited or The Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers. Trout Unlimited is a national organization of trout enthusiasts who band together for fishing trips and monthly meetings, which usually feature a guest speaker. (The Nashville chapter has recently moved its meeting location to Jack Russell’s Café in Green Hills.) Check out their Web site at www.tu.org or pick up one of their award-winning newsletters at an area fly shop. The Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers is a local community of anglers who offer monthly meetings with a speaker, as well as classes and a monthly fishing trip to area waters such as the Caney, Elk and Cumberland Rivers, and the Great Smoky Mountains. For more information on involvement with this dedicated group, visit online at www.flyfishmidtenn.com.
If your golf game has progressed from duffer to tournament player, check out the Metro Parks Municipal Championship, which consists of golfers from Nashville and surrounding counties. (You must be at least 18 years old to play.) There are no handicap restrictions and no qualifying rounds. The men’s tournament, July 18-20, will have over 300 golfers competing for the top spot; the women’s division will consist of approximately 120 entrants. Pick up an application after June 13 from one of the municipal courses. The men’s entry fee is $100; $70 for women. For additional information, contact Metro Parks Special Services Department at 862-8400.
Once you’ve won the Muni, you can move on to the TGA State Amateur Championship at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Aug. 6-9. To enter, you must be a resident of Tennessee, have a 10.0 handicap or better and compete successfully in one of seven statewide qualifying tournaments, all listed at golfhousetennessee.com. For an application, call the TGA office at 790-7600 or visit online. The cost is $100.
If your handicap is 1.4 or lower and you’re really ready for the big time, the local qualifying for the U.S. Open will be held in Memphis this year at Ridgeway Country Club on May 6. Survive the local and then move on to one of a dozen sectional qualifying tournaments scattered across the country. Applications for local qualifying tournaments can be downloaded from www.USGA.com in the first week of March and submitted no later than April 23.
Centennial Sportsplex (225 25th Ave. N.) has competitive adult ice hockey in a two-league format: the A/B League for advanced/intermediate players and a C League for beginners. A 12-game season at the Sportsplex costs $160, with seasons running throughout the year. (Ice-times for spring and summer leagues are usually better, since kids’ leagues are out of season.) Open hockey (basketball’s equivalent to pickup) also takes place at the Sportsplex for ages 18 and over. Play is open to the first 30 skaters and four goalies. Open hockey costs $10.00 per player; goalies play for free.
Newcomers to the sport should check out the beginning hockey class offered by the Sportplex, 5:15-6:15 p.m. Saturdays. The seven-week course gives you ice-time with a power skating coach and hockey coach for $130. For more information, visit the Sportsplex Web site at www.nashville.org/sportsplex, or call Frank Wright at 862-8480.
Southern Ice (215 Gothic Court, Franklin) offers three recreational leagues for adults in its two-rink arena: A-League for advanced players, B-League for intermediate players and C-League for beginners. Spring and fall seasons are 10-12 games long, while the winter league regular season is 25 games long. A season costs $15 per game. Southern Ice also offers stick-and-puck sessions and open hockey scrimmages at various times. Visit online at www.southernicearena.com for a schedule. Southern Ice will also offer hockey development programs on power skating and stick-handling skills in the summer. For more information, visit the Southern Ice Web site or call Earl Fitzgerald at 771-2444.
The Nashville Women’s Ice Hockey League (NWIHL), founded in 2000, is made up of three intraleague teams and one travel team, the Nashville Athenas. Anyone is welcome to join the house league, regardless of skill level. The Athenas are a more selective team and have participated in tournaments from Atlanta to Cincinnati. The ladies are currently raising money for a trip to the hockey heartland of Toronto, Canada. Practice and game schedules are listed on the league’s Web site at www.nwihl.homestead.com. For more information, call NWIHL president Teresa Spychalski at 646-1122.
If you prefer your hockey straight up, there are several inline hockey leagues in the Middle Tennessee area, including the Mt. Juliet Inline Hockey League, which offers youth and adult inline hockey at the Mt. Juliet Skate Center (4110 N. Mt. Juliet Road, Mt. Juliet). Adults can play pickup hockey at the skate center Sundays from 8-10 p.m. (Plans are underway for a more formal adult league in the future.) Call Jay Osborne at the skate center for information. The Hendersonville Inline Hockey Association (170-D East Main St., Ste. 222, Hendersonville) hosts a variety of leagues for all ages. Visit www.hihausa.com or call HIHA contact Christine Rasmussen at 364-5598. Finally, the Clarksville Roller Hockey League (CRHL) offers men’s, women’s and co-ed leagues at ActionSportsplex (625 Cola Dr., Clarksville, (931) 358-4500).
Nashville’s streets were covered seven-inches deep with snow when we spoke with Steve Larios, inline skating guru and owner of Asphalt Beach Inline Skate Shop. You might think that winter is a slow time for Larios, but he’s having a very hectic January. He’s just been nominated by the International Inline Skating Association (IISA) for “2002 Instructor of the Year,” a nod that he shares with only four others worldwide. He’s also in the process of moving his shop from its Cumberland Transit-based location on West End to a much larger site at 216 Seventh Avenue South. The move comes at a particularly good time, since the shop’s new location will be just a block away from Nashville’s new Mecca for skate-aholics: Sixth Avenue Skate Park.
Larios leads lessons for all levels of fitness inline skaters, plus he’s a competitive inline speed skater. Most of his business focuses on inline for clients looking to get fit with low-impact workouts. “Inline is killer for fitness,” Larios says, “and works just about every part of your body, especially your calves, back and rear.” Asphalt Beach offers beginner lessons year-round, Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. (call to confirm lesson location). Larios also leads a Sunday group skate, which meets at the Charles Davis Foundation in MetroCenter at 3 p.m. and is open to skaters of all skill levels.
If you want to go it alone, Larios recommends the following locations for fitness inline skaters: MetroCenter, Centennial Park, Shelby Bottoms Greenway in East Nashville, Stones River Greenway in Murfreesboro and River Park/Crockett Park in Brentwood. (For aggressive inline skating destinations, see Skateboarding below.) Also, check out the Asphalt Atlas on www.skating.com for a list of recommended skating locations around the country.
Finally, for experienced skaters looking to cover 80 or so miles as quickly as possible, Team RoadRash is Nashville’s competitive speed skating team. (It’s also a nasty ailment street warriors suffer.) RoadRash recently took seven skaters to compete in the 87-mile Athens-to-Atlanta Race and is always looking for new team members that can tear up the tarmac. To inquire about Team RoadRash, call Asphalt Beach Skate Shop at 242-2115 or visit the shop’s Web site at www.asphaltbeach.com.
The Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, founded in 1966 by a group of river conservationists, is wonderful for networking with other paddlers and finding the instruction you need to tame the whitewater. On the conservation front, TSRA is responsible for getting several state streams set aside for special protection. The organization has also developed a well-respected instruction program, including all levels of solo, tandem and decked canoe, whitewater kayak and sea kayak, instructor training and rescue schools. Consisting of over 1,300 members, TSRA also leads group trips to some of their favorite Tennessee spots. This April, members can look forward to TSRA’s biggest gathering and conservation fundraiser, the “Whitewater Rendezvous.” TSRA meets every other month and individual membership costs $20 per year. For information, call Jim Shelton at 269-4741 or visit online at www.paddletsra.org.
For a little advice, Bryan Dodge at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports (108 Page Road, 356-2300; 7090-B Bakers Bridge Ave., Franklin, 771-7949) is always more than happy to talk about the waterif you can catch him when he’s not on it. “TSRA really is your best bet if you’re looking to get into paddling. And for novices, a great river to learn on is the Harpeth. It’s relatively slow moving and free of obstacles. Also, the Piney River near Centerville is a very clear, scenic, spring-fed river that’s easy to paddle.” Dodge also recommends the books Paddling in Tennessee by Holly Sherwin and Appalachian Whitewater published by Menasha Ridge Press, which covers everything from Class I to Class VI whitewater in the Appalachian region. Both are available at Blue Ridge stores. This spring, look for Blue Ridge and River Sports Outfitters (73 White Bridge Road, 356-5230) to host demo days, which give novices and veteran paddlers the chance to test drive different boats before forking over their hard earned cash. Call for demo day times and locations.
Another excellent resource for paddlers is the American Whitewater Association, an organization committed to conserving America’s whitewater resources. The organization and journal promotes paddling instruction and safety and maintains a national ranking system for whitewater rivers. The group also organizes sporting events, contests and festivals to raise funds for river conservation. A tremendous amount of local river information is available on the Web site at www.americanwhitewater.org. To become an AWA member and receive the journal, go online or call (866) BOAT4AW. Basic one-year membership is $35.
Those looking for a little competition can head west to the Mississippi for the 22nd Annual Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race on May 3. The Memphis event is the largest of its kind in the Southeast with more than 500 paddlers. For information, call race director Joe Royer at (901) 722-8988 or visit www.outdoorsinc.com.
Times are tough for Douglas Kirk. The 59-year-old member of the US World Cup Seniors Lacrosse Team wants nothing more than a field for Nashville’s Lacrosse Club for Men. At present, the club suffers a number of critical deficits: They remain without a place to play and are in need coaches to teach the lacrosse skills to new players. There is also a demand for officials. Kirk is himself a college certified NCAA official, but there is only so much of him to go around. Lax players of Nashville, unite!
Started back in 1990, the lacrosse club (and the sport) enjoyed little popularity around Nashville when it first arrived. Long regarded as a “Yankee” sport, lacrosse is now exploding in the Southeast. There are currently 16 high schools in Nashville that field teams. Why the lacrosse boom? “Lacrosse,” Kirk explains, “combines the contact and hand-eye coordination of both soccer and hockey with the strategy of basketball. And unlike football or basketball, size isn’t integral to the sport. It’s all about mental and physical speed.”
You don’t have to go far to see great lacrosse played in the area. On March 9, the Vanderbilt Women’s Varsity kick off their home season against Hofstra, and are worth a look. (Last year the team made school history when they qualified for the NCAA tournament.)
If you want to join the fraternity and sorority of lacrosse enthusiasts, all it takes is a lacrosse stick, a love of beer and a phone call to Kirk at 593-6045, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Though the Nashville Lacrosse Club has lost access to their previous facilities behind St. Thomas Hospital, they are actively looking for a “home.” For women interested in playing, visit www.lacrosse.org. The US Lacrosse Web site provides a comprehensive list of tournament information, and for $45 per year both men and women can join this network of over 113,000 members. Maybe one of them can find Kirk a field.
Nashville has a wide variety of options in martial arts, from the highly reputed David Deaton Karate (three locations at 761 Main St. Hendersonville, 824-9111; 330 Franklin Road Ste. 402, 377-1100; 5532 Old Hickory Blvd., 883-9100) to Nashville Aikikai (521 Eighth Ave. S., 248-2005). Newcomer on the martial arts scene is Ed Clay, owner of Nashville Mixed Martial Arts Academy in 100 Oaks Mall. Clay has brought a rare brand of fighting to his Nashville gym in the form of Brazilian jujitsu. Made popular by the legendary Gracie family (of Ultimate Fighting Championship popularity) this form of fighting employs tactics of grappling to force opponents into positions of submission. Clay also recruited Luiz Palhares all the way from Brazil (Palhares trained there with the Gracie family), the latter one of only a handful of fighters in the Southeast to have earned a fifth-degree black belt and the only person in Tennessee. Group jujitsu classes are taught six days a week, morning, afternoon and night, at NMMAA; members can attend as many classes as they desire for a $105 a month membership. Contact Ed Clay at 297-4430.
Nashville Sport and Social Club
If meeting like-minded individuals at your workplace isn’t working out for you, if the bar scene is boring you senseless, then the Nashville Sport and Social Club would like to suggest a new approach: Take off those beer-goggles and put your game-face on! Rather than blow $50 in one big night out at the bars, you could join a co-ed sports team for seven to 10 weeks. First compete, then carouse, and, if you’re lucky, couple off. Of course, it doesn’t have to be about finding a relationship (approximately 30-percent of club’s members are married couples). It could just be about having fun and kicking some rec-league ass.
Philip Steen, one of the founders of the Nashville Sport and Social Club, is pleased with the response to the club’s spin on the Nashville social scene. In just 10 months of existence, the NSSC claims 1,500-2,000 members (ages 25-40), with over 1,200 participants in the current five-sport winter season alone. You name the sport and the club probably offers it, with leagues covering bowling, basketball, indoor and outdoor soccer, outdoor and indoor volleyball, kickball and more. There’s no membership feeyou simply pay as you play. Individual registration costs between $40-$100 per sport session and $475-$700 per team. The next sporting session begins in April.
NSSC membership also has its privileges. The club offers discounts to certain performances at TPAC, plus monthly happy hours at various bars around town. For more information or to register for a league, call 262-2783 or visit www.nashvillesportandsocialclub.com.
The racquetball scene in Nashville is exploding, and ground zero is at the Downtown YMCA at 1000 Church St., where Terry Davis oversees league and tournament play. Each year, there are four racquetball tournaments open to the public, with divisions ranging from novice to expert and play available in men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles. (The Slamrock Shootout in February features a pro-am with professional players from the Ladies Professional Racquetball Association; the Music City Open takes place in November.) Tournament participation requires a $30 yearly membership in the United States Racquetball Association and a $40 entry fee.
Between tournaments, Davis runs three leagues a yearfall, winter and springat the Downtown Y. Each league runs for 10 weeks and operates on a flex-schedule. (Matches are arranged between players on a weekly basis.) At the end of 10 weeks, players are seeded in a league-end tournament to determine a champion. Entry in the league is $30 for Y members and $45 for non-Y members along with a onetime $25 fee. For information on joining, call Davis at 895-3679.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the YMCA or live close to or in Williamson County, the Franklin Recreation Complex at 1120 Hillsboro Road houses two courts and runs a ladder league. In a ladder system, players are listed according to skill and can move up the standings by challenging and defeating players ranked above them. This league contains three divisions: advanced, intermediate and women’s intermediate and runs three times a year, averaging over 50 participants. The cost is $15 per league. For information on joining, contact Mike Devine at 370-3471 ext. 17.
Experts attest that there are only two lessons you need to learn to play Rugby. First: Hit anyone that is carrying a ball (though preferably not a teammate or referee). Second: When you get the ball, run like hell. To play the sport, look no further than the Nashville Women’s Rugby Football Club (NWRFC) and the Nashville Rugby Football Club (NRFC). Both welcome experienced ruggers as well as newcomers, but be warned: Rugby is a contact sport with a capital C. Don’t send the hospital bill the Scene’s way if you take a rookie-style beating.
The NWRFC, a USA Rugby Division II member since 1997, counts two dozen active players and over 70 people on their social list. (The club sponsors post-game socials, and community service projects.) According to NWRFC president Elizabeth Schlaeger, the club is always looking for new faces. “No prior knowledge of any sport is needed and body size and type are not a factor,” Schlaeger says. “All you need is $50, a mouthpiece and a pair of rugby shorts.” Rugby is a year-round sport and the NWRFC women are already practicing for their spring season, set to begin Feb. 15. Practices are held 7-9 p.m. Mondays & Wednesdays at Vanderbilt. You can catch the first home game of the season Feb. 22 at the MetroCenter fields. For more information on women’s rugby, visit www.nashvillewomensrugby.com or contact Schlaeger at 885-2062.
On the men’s side, NRFC has been competing since 1974. The club currently holds 30-40 members on its active roster, plus a lengthy “old boys” roster of retired players who join in the scrummages and post-match social hours from time to time. NRFC competes year-round, with a competitive spring season that offers plenty of travel opportunities. (The road to the USA Rugby Division II National Championships stops in Huntsville, Memphis and St. Louis.) The spring season has already begun with the next home game at 1 p.m. Feb. 15 at MetroCenter. Practices take place from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Vanderbilt. For a complete schedule or information on joining NRFC, visit the club’s Web site at www.nashvillerugby.com, or e-mail the club at email@example.com.
Finally, ruggers from all over the country will be coming to Nashville to get their ruck and maul on at the annual Nash Bash, March 29-30. Hosted by both the men’s and women’s clubs, NashBash will bring in over 60 teams for competition on five rugby pitches at the MetroCenter fields. Contact either club for information.
Whether you’re new to the sport or a world class competitor, you don’t have to hit the road alone when there’s a running club like the Nashville Striders available to you. Visit online at www.nashvillestriders.com and sign up to become part of a network of 1,200 runners around the area. For an annual membership fee of $18, you can take your pick from weekly fun runs, fitness walks, road races, trail races and track events to local races such as the Tom King Half Marathon (March 15). For a listing of national races, The Road Runners Club of America provides a comprehensive listing on its Web site [www.rrca.org]. If marathons are your thing, visit www.marathonguide.com and choose between hundreds of marathons around the country. If, however, you prefer to run one in your own backyard (i.e., wake up in your own bed and use your own toilet before the race), visit www.cmmarathon.com and start training for the Music City Marathon (April 26). With 10,000 other runners participating, who said running was a solitary sport?
The Nashville Gun Club, located at 1100 County Hospital Road, is a state of the art shooting facility featuring skeet, trap and sporting clays. Members of the Nashville Gun Club enjoy reduced shooting rates, exclusive shooting privileges during member-only time slots and participation in member shoots. Charity events are a big part of life at the Nashville Gun Club, which are arranged and sponsored by members and have helped organizations combating, among other things, cancer and diabetes. The club travels together frequently to shooting events in cities like Knoxville, Memphis and Tunica. Men and women of all ages participate and social gatherings often end a good day of competition. The facilities continue to improve with a fully automated sport clay course in the works. Officials are also working on arranging weekly member meetings as well as a fully licensed hunter safety course. Information on becoming a member, which runs $250 per year, is available at www.nashvillegunclub.com or by calling 742-5297.
Face itNashville isn’t often accused of being on the cutting edge of anything. We’ve only recently picked up pro sports, embraced organic food stores and made a few streets bicycle-friendly. Not surprisingly, local skateboarders will tell you that Nashville is stuck somewhere between the Mesolithic and Neolithic ages (or between Vert Dogs and Street Rats, to use skate lingo that is decidedly passé). Nashville does have its skateboarding pioneers, however. XXX Sports (1180 Antioch Pike, 781-8766), a skateboarding/inline skating/BMX shop and skate park, has been open since 1994. The XXX Sportspark offers an indoor “SuperBowl” constructed of masonite, plus steel outdoor ramps. Nashville also has Legislative Plaza, one of the most popular spots for street riders to grind, ollie and pick up a hefty fine or arrest. (Like we said, Nashville is way behind the times.) Skateboarders have a home at several local YMCA skate parks, like the Brentwood YMCA Skate Park♦ (8207 Concord Road, Brentwood, 373-0215) and the Rutherford County YMCA Sun Skate Center♦♦ (205 N. Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro, 895-5995), but inline skaters and younger kids often dominate them.
Fortunately, there are new developments in the Nashville skate scene to remedy this dearth of options. Rocketown, the under-21 club formerly located in Franklin, just reopened in downtown Nashville. Along with a music/dance club and the Empyrean coffeehouse, the complex offers Sixth Avenue Skate Park (401 Sixth Ave. S., 843-4006), downtown Nashville’s first indoor skate park. The 12,000 square-foot park was designed by Catalyst Ramp Co. of Ventura, Calif., a city that knows a thing or two about skateboarding. “A good skate park will create tomorrow’s pros,” says Scott Douglas of Catalyst. By the talent he’s seen on display at Sixth Avenue, the potential is certainly there. The park is designed for both tranny and tech riders, layered with Skatelite (a high-tech, high-endurance skateboarding surface), and features a 16-foot vert wall, a 10-foot bank-to-vert corner, a five-foot capsule bowl and many hips, ledges, rails and spine ramps. Open to all ages. Hours: 2-6 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 2-5 p.m., 5-8 p.m. and 8 p.m.-midnight Fri.; 9 a.m.-noon (ages 12 and under only), noon-3 p.m., 3-6 p.m., 6-9 p.m. and 9 p.m.-midnight Sat.; noon-3 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. Sun. Rates are $10 per session and $39 for a monthly membership with no session fees.
Metro Parks is also paying attention to the outcry from skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX riders. The recently released Metro Parks Master Plan mentions plans for a 20,000 square-foot skate park, costing approximately $500,000. The site currently recommended by Metro is adjacent to Wave Country at Two Rivers Parkway, which could eventually be accessible from Shelby Bottoms via paved trails along the Stones River Greenway. Look to get involved, as park design will largely be based on input from public information sessions, taking place this spring or early summer.
Finally, if you’re looking for skateboarding swag or just advice, check these other local stores: Planet SK8 (located near Brentwood YMCA Skate Park at 7024 Church St. E., Brentwood, 377-1947); Cumberland Transit (2807 West End Avenue, 321-4069); or Murfreesboro Bicycle Company (located next to the Sun Skate Center at 710 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro, 896-5100).
♦Brentwood YMCA Skate Park hours: 3-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 9 a.m.-noon (beginners only) & noon-7 p.m. (open) Sat.; noon-5 p.m. Sun. Skate facility members pay $50 for 12 visits & $30 for 6 visits. Individual program members pay $100 for 12 visits & $60 for 6 visits. After Hours Skate for members takes place every third Saturday of the month from 8 p.m. to midnight for $5. For information, call 373-0215.
♦♦Rutherford County Family YMCA Sun Skate Center open skate hours: 4-8 p.m. Mon., Tues., & Thurs.; 4-9 p.m. Fri.; 12:30-6 p.m. Sun. Beginner sessions are 4-6 p.m. Wed. & 10 a.m.-noon Sat. Intermediate & advanced sessions are 6-8 p.m. Weds. & noon-8 p.m. Sat. The park is free for YMCA members. Non-members must purchase an annual program membership and a punch card. Individual program memberships are $20; family program memberships are $30. Day passes for non-members are also available for $10. For information, call 895-5995.
One of the hottest venues for soccer players in town is the Robert A. Ring Indoor Arena in Franklin (1875 Downs Blvd.). Men’s, women’s and co-ed soccer leagues take place at various times throughout the year on the arena’s state-of-the-art turf. Registration is currently underway for a Wednesday night co-ed league, which runs March 5-April 30. Registration deadline is Feb. 18 and costs $400 per team. Call Gary Hathcock or Reving Yahya at 790-5792 to register.
For men, the Music City Soccer Association (MCSA) welcomes players of all skill levels into its under-30 league. The league holds both spring and fall seasons, with games typically held at the Harpeth Youth Soccer Association fields in Bellevue. For information, visit www.musiccitysoccer.com. Over-30 men should check out the Nashville Masters Men’s League, established in 1989. For information, visit www.nashvillesoccer.com or e-mail Craig Stults at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For talented young men’s players still banking on a stint in the pros, the Nashville Metros are one of the United Soccer League’s longest owned and operated franchises. The Metros currently compete in the USL’s Premier Development League, which prepares standout high school and college players for the professional level. Metros tryouts will be in March for the upcoming summer season. Exact tryout times will be posted in February on the Metros’ Web site at www.nashvillemetrossoccer.com; or you can reach Nashville Metros head coach Andy Poklad at 832-5678.
The Nashville Area Women’s Soccer Association, the recreational women’s league, holds spring and fall seasons with weekend games at Ezell Park (5135 Harding Place). For information, visit www.nawsa.homestead.com. To register for the upcoming spring season, call Molly Grisham at 297-3168. For more competitive women’s soccer, the Extreme Team is NAWSA’s over-18 club soccer team. The club looks to travel to at least three tournaments per year and often competes against local college and youth club teams for training. For more information about Extreme, e-mail Courtney Thompson at email@example.com. NAWSA’s over-30 travel team, Fury, is composed primarily of players from the rec-league. They look to travel to several club tournaments throughout the year and can be reached by e-mailing Shannon Sweeney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, good and bad news for competitive women’s soccer was released this month in the Southern Soccer Scene. The Memphis Mercury, a very successful USL W-League team, has decided to take a hiatus for the 2003 season, which doesn’t bode well for the team’s future. The good news: There is hope for the Mercury in 2004, if they can cut down on travel costs. Rumor has it that the USL will be exploring franchise possibilities in cities close to Memphislike Nashville.
Come spring, legions of softball players hit the diamonds for mid-week doubleheaders in one of the many leagues running in Nashville. The Metro Parks Division runs a spring/summer league that takes place in the local parks around Nashville including Shelby, Cane Ridge and Cedar Hill parks. Teams looking to join the Metro league can choose from the following categories of play: men’s, women’s, co-ed, men’s and women’s church league and an industrial league, which pits local company teams against one another. Within each division, teams (maximum of 20 players) can choose to play in a single- or double-game 14-week schedule. In the single league, one game is played each week, while teams playing a double schedule will play one doubleheader each week for a total of 28 games. A postseason city tournament is held in late July to crown a city champion. Sign up for new teams begins at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8 at the Looby Center at 2301 Metro Center Blvd., and is first-come-first-serve. Single-game entry is $400 per team, which covers all expenses including trophies and umpires; the double-game fee is $526. For more information, call Gail Parks in the Recreation Office at 862-8424.
Another softball option is available through Williamson County Recreation. Games are played at Fieldstone Farms, a sprawling complex of beautifully manicured diamonds right off Hillsboro Road in Franklin. Over 200 teams enter the league each year, and play runs from April through May with a 20-game season, all played in doubleheaders. A postseason tournament caps off the league. The cost is $440 per team for the men and $350 per team for the women. Entry is on a first-come-first-serve basis, so people interested in joining should contact Mike Devine at 370-3471 ext. 17 sooner than later. Another perk of the Franklin-based league: Players will often find themselves playing against their favorite country music star or Tennessee Titan, many of whom make their homes in Williamson County. Here’s your chance to block Steve McNair, Eddie George or Wynonna as they slide into home plate!
“Squash is three-dimensional aerobic chess,” says Gerry Sakura, director of squash at Vanderbilt University. Played with a longer, smaller-head racquet than racquetball, squash presents more of a tactical challenge to players. The court is smaller, for one (five feet lower and eight feet shorter) and the front wall has a 12-inch-high metal plate (the telltale or tin) that competitors are forced to play their shots above. With less ground to cover, it’s harder to earn kills. “A skilled player can win a point in racquetball in an average of one to two strokes,” Sakura explains, “but in squash there is an average of 40 strokes per point, which makes for longer, more exciting rallies.” An international game requiring terrific eye-hand coordination, the sport attracts players of all skill levels. (At 63, Sakura still plays against competitors half his age.)
Unfortunately for enthusiasts and newcomers, there are only two courts in Nashville, both located at Vanderbilt University. Though in the past a person had to be affiliated with the university to play there, the recreation center recently extended 200 memberships to Nashville residents. (Fees varies according to time of year. For more information, call the recreation center at 343-6627.)
Twice a year, Vanderbilt opens its doors to the public by hosting squash tournaments (the next one is set for Jan. 25). For a fee of $10, all members of the community can put their squash skills to the test. For more information, contact Gerry Sakura at 646-0487. For a complete listing of national tournaments, visit the United States Squash Racquets Association’s Web site at www.us-squash.org/squash/. Start training now and you could be ready for the Southeastern Squash Tournament in Atlanta, open to all skill levels, Feb. 14-16.
For adult swimmers, United States Masters Swimming (USMS) programs are an excellent motivational tool to help you get out of bed and into the pool at 5 a.m. The national organization provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults. A variety of swimmers take part in the programs, from intermediate swimmers looking to stay fit to ex-All-Americans to triathletes in training.
Coach Jeremy Organ of the Nashville Aquatic Club leads a Music City Masters program year-round at the Tracy Caulkins Competition Pool at Centennial Sportsplex (225 25th Ave. N., 862-8480). “The competitive side of swimming isn’t stressed in the adult programs,” says Organ. “It’s just available for those that want the chance to relive the glory days.” Practices at the Sportsplex take place at 6:30-7:30 a.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri.; noon-1 p.m. Mon., Tues., Wed. and Thurs. Maryland Farms YMCA (5101 Maryland Way, Brentwood, 373-2900) also offers an NAC Music City Masters program, coached by Brent Rosen, 5-6:30 a.m. Mon.-Fri. and 7-8 a.m. Sat. To join NAC, you need to join USMS, which costs $30 annually; the Masters program is $50 per month. To contact NAC, Coach Organ or Coach Rosen, call 321-3510.
Brentwood’s spankin’ new Williamson County Indoor Sports Complex (920 Heritage Way, Brentwood, 370-3471) hosts another USMS program through Excel Aquatics Club. Excel’s program currently has about 45 participants and three Masters coaches. A swim coach for over 25 years, coach Mike Phillips says that Excel’s program, like NAC’s, brings in swimmers with a variety of personal goals. “Two swimmers in the Masters program are currently training for Olympic team trials, while around half or more won’t ever compete; they are just in it for fun, exercise and weight control.” He adds that less experienced participants in the program will see a dramatic improvement after only their first few weeks. “Many programs offer 5-10 practices a week, with a coach every other practice,” Phillips says, “while Excel holds 18 practices throughout the week with a coach present at every session.” Excel practices take place 5-6:60 & 8:30-10 a.m. Mon.-Fri.; 11:30 a.m. Mon, Wed. and Fri; 6:30 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 7:30 a.m. Sat. If you hurry to register, the club has a Masters meet coming up at the WCISC on Feb. 1. For information, call 370-3471 ext. 23 or visit www.excelaquatics.org. The initial Masters membership is $50, which includes registration with Excel & USMS; the program costs $60 per month.
Whether you are training to be the next Pete Sampras or just looking for a friendly game, the tennis center at Centennial Sportsplex Center, located at 224 25th Ave. N., is Nashville’s premier public facility. There is a $50 charge to play in singles or doubles leagues from the 3.0-5.0 level. In the heat of summer, the Sportsplex hosts the Nashville Municipal Open (July 11-15). Contact Blain Smith at 862-8490 for additional Sportsplex tournament and league information. Costs for courts outside of league play are $15 indoors, $4 outdoors (day) to $5 outdoors (night). Sportsplex hours are 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. If you’re interested in competing across the state or the country, visit the Nashville Tennis Association online at www.nashvilletennis.com for a comprehensive listing of regional tournaments, or visit www.usta.com to learn how to qualify on a national level.
Track and Field
To create an outlet for track lovers in Nashville, a core group of athletes formed the Nashville Track Club in 1986, merging four years ago with the Nashville Striders. The club’s All-Comer’s Adult Track Races dates back to the 1970’s and has been popular ever since. “The All-Comers Races take place at 6:30 p.m. at Vanderbilt University on the first four Thursdays of June,” says Frank Schmidt, president of the Nashville Striders. “It’s a great way to get everyone from little kids to 80-year-olds to get out there and test themselves in the sprints and middle distances in a competitive but fun atmosphere.” The meets require no pre-registration or membership fee. Also of interest is the Don Brady Memorial Master’s Open Track Meet (June 28), also held at Vanderbilt. The meet features “masters” or runners over the age of 40, though any age is welcome to participate. “It’s a casual yet competitive meet geared toward running as a lifelong commitment,” Schmidt said. The registration fee has not yet been determined. For more information, contact Randall Brady of the Nashville Striders at 870-3330 or visit online at www.nashvillestriders.com.
If you’re new to triathlons, a good place to start investigating is Team Nashville (2817 West End Ave., 321-5257), a Vanderbilt-area running/triathlon store run by Terry Coker and Robert Eslick. Not only have they operated Team Nashville for over 20 years, they’ve also competed at high levels and trained some of the best runners in the area. Both recommend joining the Greater Nashville Athletic Club (GNAC), which they consider the club for multisport athletes in Nashville. (It is also a registered USAT Triathlon Club.) The club consists of over 200 members ranging in age from 9 to 84 and offers athletes the opportunity to meet, train and compete with other multi-sport athletes. You might even rub shoulders with the likes of Bruce Gennari and Shelby Sheffield, GNAC members and two of the top 10 triathletes in the nation after their showings at the 2002 USAT National Age Group Triathlon Championship Nationals. Membership has other privileges, like the chance to reap discounts on quality training gear. Those interested in joining GNAC can call John Minton at 255-6409 or visit www.gnac.org. Membership is $30.
The guys at Team Nashville suggest that triathletes incorporate a Masters Swim program into their training. (See Swimming above for more information.) Other excellent resources for triathletes include the Running Journal, a monthly publication that provides comprehensive information on road races in the Southeast, plus information on duathlons/triathlons, racewalking, ultra-running and wheelchair racing. Go online at www.running.net to subscribe. Additionally, a complete list of USA Triathlon events coming up in 2003 is available on the USAT Web site at www.usatriathlon.org.
And if you weren’t aware of it already, Nashville hosts its own annual event, the Music City Triathlon (1.5k swim/40k bike/10k run), one of the oldest triathalons in the country. This year’s event kicks off from the Cook Recreation Area at 8 a.m. Sept. 7. For information about the Music City Triathlon, call Bill Ramsey at 292-4158.
This quintessential “alternative” sport enjoys a die-hard following most mainstream sports enthusiasts find hard to understand. But Ultimate-heads agree: You haven’t lived until you’ve laid out. Helping to spread the Frisbee gospel is the Nashville Ultimate Machine (NUM), the umbrella organization for men’s, women’s and co-ed Ultimate Frisbee teams in the city.
Whether you can throw a mean hammer or not, NUM is always interested in recruiting new players, and the co-ed summer league, which last year included nearly 250 players of all skill levels, is a popular place to start. This season, look for Lightning 100’s Team Green to lead a clinic with NUM in mid-May to prepare newcomers for the league, which runs from May 21 and continues through early August, on Wednesday nights. The 10-week summer season costs $35 per player.
For skilled players looking to take their game on the road, NUM has both men’s and women’s club teams, consisting of about 20 active players each. Those interested in men’s Ultimate can contact Matt Hausmann at 850-2823. fLo, NUM’s women’s club team, is enthusiastically open to players of all skill levels. They currently practice Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at Dudley Field, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Chestnut. For information on joining fLo, e-mail Lynne Robinson at 228-6640 or email@example.com. The men’s and women’s clubs will be hosting the 15th year of their annual tournament, the Monkey Bowl, in mid-April.
Currently, Ultimate players can look for pick-up games on Sundays at Elmington Park from 2 p.m. until dark. For more information on NUM, visit www.nashvilleultimate.com.
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