When I was a little girl, I knew I was going to grow up to be an athlete. I went to bed at night imagining my career as a figure skater or a basketball star or a ballerina, but that one would really be a hobby. I saw the adult world as one of fun and possibilities.
Then I grew up.
There are no long days practicing my triple lutz, and I haven’t picked up a tennis racket since I was 17. What happened to this exciting world of sports and athleticism?
The lack of regular physical activity available to the standard American desk jockey has obesity rates skyrocketing. We sit on our couches expanding and the plot of the movie WALL-E becomes dangerously close to a reality.
As I struggle to convince enough friends to join a volleyball league with me again this year, I think how unfair it is that sports simply cease to exist outside of one's high school and college years.
Or do they?
Just Roll With It
In 2006, Omaha gave birth to her first Roller Derby Team when 14 women took over Skate Daze and made this cultural phenomenon ours. The Omaha Roller Girls started at the bottom and worked tirelessly to gain recognition as a powerful force in the brutally entertaining sport; The women began this season ranked 66 out of 225 ranked teams worldwide. The members aren’t just tough women with catchy clever nicknames like Psycho Thera Pissed and Demi Lition either. They are a community-focused team working and networking to further causes important to each member.
The unpaid players spend their extra time volunteering with organizations like Ted E Bear Hollow, The American Cancer Society, and Omaha Dog Parks. Some help out at Youth Emergency Services helping homeless and at-risk area young people find homes, educations, and work. Together, they all volunteer to help vet and train all aspiring Roller Girls to help maintain their status as a legitimate class act. The not-for-profit, skater-owned -and-operated Roller Girls pour any funds raised directly back into the community.
Play consists of two teams skating counterclockwise on a flat, oval track. One player per team is assigned "The Jammer” and is the only scoring player. The Jammer can be changed during each of the Jams, a 2 minute bout of play. Her job is to lap the opposing team by being whipped and flung by her team to the front of the pack while they take out as many players as they can.
From tough workouts at Title Boxing Club in Omaha to limping home after a bout played on broken toes, these ladies are in it to win it, and they might just win a few hearts while they’re breaking a few bones.
If you are interested in becoming the next May Hem or Dolly MadAsHellSon, or to become part of the volunteer staff who help make the games happen, contact recruitment director Pinky The Insane and be prepared to work! Tickets are on sale now for the next bout, a double header featuring both the Omaha All Stars and The AAA team. Event takes place June 6th at The Mid America Center.
Equipment needed: Quad Skates, Pads, Helmet
Cost: $35 monthly fee plus $60 annual insurance (in addition to purchase of gear and maintenance)
Time Commitment required: attendance of 2-3 practices per week
Legends in Lingerie
What started as a cheeky Super bowl halftime stunt has grown into a full force women’s football phenomenon. Legends Football League, formerly known as The Lingerie Football League, now boasts 10 teams in the United States as well as 9 teams throughout Canada and Australia. Scantily clad females playing football may have begun as a gimmick to snag the attention of the predominantly male viewership, but watching these women play will quickly dispel the notion that The Omaha Heart are just a powder puff league. The women play 7 on 7 full contact tackle football. The players are, incidentally, beautiful- but only until play begins.
A blow of the whistle finds grease-faced females with full time careers and helmet-wearing women with high stress jobs plowing through one another with an intensity usually reserved for the big leagues. A college student who devotes every extra hour to training is crumpled by a mom who runs drills while her toddler naps. These girls are on the field, ready to change your mind about just how serious this game is to them.
I spoke with Omaha Heart running back Steph Baer about the commitment required of a woman in what has always been a man’s sport. The former Marine admits that the training is incredibly tough, saying: “I worked out everyday day prior to joining the team and (football) workouts kick my butt. I’ll admit that it’s a lot of early mornings on the weekend that I would love to be sleeping, but what started out as practices and work turned into time with my closest friends. We are aggressive and hitting each other, going all out. Running sprints till my mask is fogged up with my gasping breaths, then going and doing Olympic lifts at the gym heavier than I ever imagined myself doing. It all sounded like work in the beginning, but I find it to be what I look forward to most in my week.”
But let’s be honest. With a woman’s innately softer heart, can the game ever be truly aggressive? According to Baer, it’s crucial to each woman that she be brutal, citing that she has to be the toughest person on the field. She is out there protecting her family. If she isn’t ruthless, someone she cares about gets hurt. It is her job to keep them safe on the field, and the same attitude of selfless caring that compelled her to join the military is what makes her a savage player. That’s an Omaha Heart, soft as steel.
If you want to catch Baer (#5) and her family of brutal beauties in action, check out The Omaha Heart vs The Chicago Bliss June 13 at 8 p.m. If you're interested in joining the league, visit http://www.lflus.com/ to submit your application.
DISCover A New Way to Play
Golf is widely considered ‘the thinking man’s game.’ Green grass and quiet lend to a deep meditative state, and one can get lost for hours in the solitude and focus.
An ever so slightly less opulent version of the game appeals to the athlete seeking an every-man-for-himself competition, without the extravagance of a caddy and cart.
Disc golf is played quite similarly to your standard 9- to 27-hole course, subbing hundreds of dollars’ worth of clubs for a set of Frisbees. A quiet day at any of Nebraska’s dozens of courses will find “frolfers” (frisbee golfers) flinging their discs into metal baskets, the object being to reach the goal in as few throws as possible. There are 3 main discs in a standard set. The driver has a sharp, beveled edge with ideal aerodynamics for cutting through the air and traveling long distance. The mid-range has a slightly blunt edge for a shorter game, but with more accuracy. The putter is designed blunt and slow, but extremely accurate.
Not sure where to start? Visit Disc Store, the global disc retail company based in Omaha at 600 S 72nd. The staff is friendly, no matter how many questions you ask. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) They can fit you for a proper weight and even tell you who won last week’s tournament. Everyone at the shop is a disc enthusiast and will show you why people feel like they’re part of a team in this one-man sport.
On June 8th, Seymour Smith Park will be home to the Omaha Disc Expo. The 2 day pet-friendly event will feature food, live music, disc golf clinics, accuracy and long drive competitions, and much more, with proceeds benefiting The Nebraska Humane Society. Check out OMDGA (Omaha Metro Disc Golf Association) on Facebook or go to http://nebdiscforums.yuku.com/topic/4116/Omaha-Disc-Expo-June-89#.VV-PT2fJD4g for all of the details!
Equipment needed: A basic 3 disc set to start. Driver, mid-range, and putter.
Consider ultimate frisbee disc golf's tough big brother. You've got all of the elements you liked about disc golf, but it's a little more grown up and a lot more likely to leave a few bruises. Game play consists of moving your disc down a field slightly smaller than a football field into an endzone. The catch, when you have a disc in your hands, your feet must not move. Players pass the disc to team members moving toward the goal, dodging opponents while remaining open for a catch.
I spoke with Joel "Petey" Peterson, who discovered ultimate for himself as a freshman at UNO in 2005. A football player in high school, Petey was looking for an outlet for his athleticism. After growing his skills with the fledgling UNO team, in 2006 he became part of the Summer Omaha Ultimate League's (SOUL) inaugural year. By 2008 he became captain and President of UNO's Ultimate Club, which found itself traveling to represent Omaha in Ultimate leagues all around the country. In 2010 he became captain of his team in SOUL, a title he still holds today.
The Summer League's season opened May 12th and has over 200 players signed up. While the teams have already been formed, alternates and subs are integral to keeping the game running smoothly. Spectators enjoy watching for the many elements of soccer, football, and basketball to combine into a surprisingly elegant, graceful game that requires coordination and communication among its players.
To see Peterson in action with his team True Red check out their schedule at http://omahadisc.com/ or just head to the NP Dodge Soccer Complex at 11001 John J Pershing Drive Tuesdays at 6 p.m.!
It's A Bocce Get Crazy Out There!
Bocce ball (Bah-chee) has long been considered the game of the Old World Italians, but has recently been embraced by Omahans of all walks of life who share one thing in common: the desire to share some friendly competition and make a few new friends.
The object is simple; Try to toss your bocce ball closer to the boccino or pallino (smaller ball) than your opponent can. There is obviously a bit of finesse involved in trying to knock opposing balls further from the pallino without bumping into your own team’s active ball, but there it is in a nutshell. The real fun in attending The Big O Bocce League’s Tuesday night games is the announcement of the utterly punderful team names.
Boccelism will play against Shweddy Balls this Tuesday at 6. The Big LeBocce plays at 7, as does 99 Problems and a Bocce Ain’t One. There are always a few hard-core teams, and a few who are really there to see their friends, enjoy a cold drink, and take part in some good-natured double entendre.
Whatever brings you to bocce, bring a friend along. The sport has been growing steadily in Omaha over the last few years and offers a relaxed, fun competition and a good excuse to have a beer on a Tuesday night.
Games every Tuesday night
Registration for the Summer session opened May 25
Season begins July 14
Fun on the Run
In a time long ago, our ancestors spent their days chasing after their dinner and sprinting to avoid becoming someone else’s. A five mile jaunt was all in an afternoon’s hunt, and the big reward at the end was another five mile jaunt back to camp, hopefully carrying a few hundred pounds of dead animal. Then, the fast food drive through was invented and the couch potato was born. I may have skipped a few hundred years in that brief retelling of history, but you see what I’m getting at.
Then in 1995, The Eco Challenge put adventure runs on the radar for athletes and challenge seekers across the globe, eventually spawning muddy obstacle courses in every state. With a reason to run, Instagram exploded with mud, glitter, paint, foam, and sweat covered amateur athletes grinning blissfully in their exhaustion.
I had a chance to talk with Kevin Simonson, Race Director of 5K The Hard Way, about what makes an adventure run successful. He tells me that people thrive on being truly challenged. Whether they’ve run, jogged, walked, or dragged themselves over the finish line, people love to overcome. “We give them the opportunity to truly test themselves and gain that sense of accomplishment. They get to choose their level of difficulty, but no matter what road they take, they're going to have fun."
In Simonson’s 5K, people have ample opportunity to overcome. 20 obstacles they will face along the way include balance beams, fallen trees, a suspension bridge, ravines, walls, foam, mud, and a 100 foot water slide. In all of this sloppy chaos, don’t forget the fact that you have 5 kilometers of earth to cover. If you’re not terribly familiar with the metric system, this is just over 3 miles of torturous terrain, climbing, crawling, and clawing your way to the finish line.
I had to ask him, as I only run if I’m being chased, who on earth would sign up for such a thing? He laughs and tells me that it’s a whole family affair. He has seen 6-year-olds running alongside their parents. He has seen retirees sloshing through the mud in tu-tus and war paint. Cancer survivors form teams, bald heads painted to match, cheering one another through each hurdle. They know they have overcome more in their life, and that some of the biggest battles lie ahead, but just for today this broken down bus in their way has their complete focus.
“The race begins at 10 a.m. and the first few waves are really competitive. Those are your athletes and military. They’re on a mission! The race isn’t timed, but the first 5 male and female competitors to cross the finish line are awarded special medals."
In addition to the incredible experience, your registration gets you free parking, (unlike some other mud runs we’ve heard about) a 5K The Hard Way T-shirt, 5K The Hard Way Finisher Medal, 2 Free Rounds of Golf at Valley View Golf Course, and water and fruit at the finish line.
If the endorphins move you, stick around for the after party featuring a DJ, beer and food for purchase, and a few new mud-covered friends.
After my chat with Mr. Simonson, I found myself perusing the page. My finger hovers over the registration button and I think…who doesn’t like to get a little dirty?
Can’t make it out to the Fremont 5K? Here are a few more adventure runs to sink your galoshes into!
3097 County Road O, Tekamah, NE
Dirty Bird June 20th Ponca State Park, Ponca Nebraska
Muddy banks of the Missouri river
Color Run July 18
Century Link/TD Ameritrade
Glow Run August 1
Louis and Clark Landing
Color Fun Fest Kids 5k September 26
12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion