[EDITOR'S NOTE: As we began wrapping up research on this particular piece, we realized that, yep, we were leaving out bunches of recreational activities, mainly because we were running out of print space. If you don't see your favorite sport listed herein, trust us: We're planning a "Sports for Everybody PART DEUX" issue to run in a few months. Send your suggestions to email@example.com, and we'll let you know when we're going to drop a NUVO that includes yoga, gymnastics, bocce ball, weightlifting, Quidditch, etc., etc., etc.]
When NUVO began including a "sports" section in our City Guides, we decided to highlight both the spectator variety and participatory activities — recreational goodies for everyone from running to disc golf to bike polo. When we looked back at our collection of quarterly publications, we figured it might be a good idea to take what we'd learned about rec sports and put it all into one handy place.
Indy, you see, really is a sports town — and not just in the pricey-ticket-and-tailgating manner that term might imply. One of Mass Ave's most famous buildings, the Athenaeum, was the headquarters of Indy's "Socialer Turnverein," a gymnastics club. Recent downtown development has focused on multi-use trails and the Circle City's seen the addition of a beautiful new Y and a bike hub by City Market. Add the numbers walking and biking the Monon on a given day, and you get the sense the capital city is trying to knock Indiana out of that awful "Top Ten Fattest States" list. (Data from the CDC tells us an average of 32 percent of Hoosiers qualify as "obese.')
So lace up the shoes or the skates, pump up the tires and balls and let's get active. Shall we?
For beginners trying to get into running or wanting to train for their first half-marathon, figuring out how to get started can be overwhelming. Luckily for Indianapolis residents, there are multiple groups that can help people with this very challenge. Athletic Annex, a retailer that sells running and walking footwear and apparel out of two local locations, currently is conducting a training program called "3 Run 7" targeted at beginners and intermediate runners and walkers who are preparing for spring half-marathons. Many participants in the group are preparing for the Carmel Half Marathon (Apr. 16), the Geist Half Marathon (May 21) or the Mini-Marathon (May 7).
The group meets at the store's Broad Ripple location every Saturday at 8 a.m. to do walks and runs on the Monon Trail. Some members of the group also meet on Wednesday nights for additional work. The program lasts 16 weeks and started in mid-January. It costs $50 and includes a shirt and seminars with St. Vincent's professionals in addition to the training from coach Gareth Wilford and his team of staffers and mentors. Although this program is about half over now, Coach Wilford says people can still join. He'll probably just recommend a modified program aiming at preparing for a shorter race. Coach indicated that the program is welcoming to all and caters to your everyday runner and people who are totally new to the sport. More information can be found at athleticannex.com. Indy Runners is another club that puts on a similar spring training program. It may be too late to sign up for that program this year, but the club does offer a fall marathon and half marathon training program. More information can be found at indyrunners.org. This site also includes a helpful calendar listing all the running events in the Indianapolis area throughout the year.
Athletic Annex Broad Ripple, 6528 Cornell Ave., 317-253-1792, athleticannex.com
Over the next two months, a lot of attention will be paid to the Mini. As the Indy 500 marks its 100th Running, the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon celebrates its 40th birthday. Here's info on the Mini and the last run left in the "Miler" series:
The 500 Festival Miler Series
Ten-Miler, April 9, 8 a.m.
Races start and end in White River State Park in front of the NCAA Hall of Champions, 700 W. Washington St., prices vary,
The 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 5K
May 7, wave start times vary; 5K starts at 7 a.m. More than 35,000 folks make this the premiere half-marathon event in the nation. The festival says:
The course for the Mini-Marathon begins near the intersection of Washington and West streets, heads west toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along Michigan Street and does a complete lap around the 2.5 mile track before heading back down New York Street to the finish line.
In addition to the on-course entertainment, the "First 500" finishers get a medal and everyone gets a tech shirt, timing device, energy drinks and eats and even a beer at the end of the run for those 21 and older.
Washington and West streets, prices vary, indymini.com
— Jack Carney
Whaddya got? A carbon-fiber racer worth three grand or an old third-hand Schwinn with a banana seat? Where do you want to ride — on dirt or pavement? There are so many variables here, so much info and so much gear, we could spend all the pages we'd planned for this article on biking alone. (We'll go into greater detail on biking the Circle City in an upcoming NUVO — check back this summer.) For now, we'll refer you to your local bike shop — BGI up north, Gray Goat to the south, Bike Line and Bike Exchange along the Monon, Matthews on the Eastside or our 2015 "Best Of Indy" winner in the bike shop category, Irvington's Indy Cycle Specialist — all of 'em can get you on the cycle you need for your level of experience, preferred terrain and budget.
The Central Indiana Biking Association (CIBA) provides a wealth of information on regular rides and events on its site. For the freelancers among us, there are tons of great paved routes around Indy — including the gorgeous Cultural Trails — and a bike share program that's flourishing downtown. The best-known trail in Indy, of course, is the Monon, which won a Best of Indy Award from NUVO in 2014. And if you're really into Flaming Calves of Doom, stay tuned for the 2016 Hilly Hundred, an autumn ride south of Indy that's as pretty as it is painful. CIBA's website is cibaride.org.
The Hoosier Mountain Biking Association's website offers a great list of all the trails available across the state of Indiana, plus info on conditions. Close to home, a few examples of some nice flow-y stuff include Town Run Trail Park, Southwestway Park and the always lovely Fort Harrison State Park. Brown County offers exceptional rides if you're willing to make the hour-plus jaunt: Brown County State Park, Nebo Ridge just outside Story and Hickory Ridge (beware the horses), which offers winding routes through the Hoosier National Forest. Check out hmba.org/wp/ for all the deets.
Or perhaps the Speedway?
The Tour de Cure, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, is one of those great rides that include trips around the track — the century ride here is nothing but circuits around the world's most famous racetrack. Crossing the yard of bricks, whether it's at 200 mph, 20 or 12, is always exciting.
Tour de Cure, June 4, time TBD. Rides include a Family Fun course, 50K, 75K and 100-miler. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, $15 registration fee, $200 fundraising minimum, tour.diabetes.org
— Ed Wenck
We decided to let Rev. Peyton (of Big Damn Band fame) weigh in here. He's been penning an occasional advice column called "Big Damn Advice," and we felt this nugget from Dec. of 2015 was apropos:
There is so much beauty so close, and even in vastly populated areas, and it's mostly unused or under-enjoyed by the local people. I bet there is a hiking trail closer than you think. I know there is a state or national park within a one-day driving trip. Getting an outdoor hobby can actually be cheap, too. How much does hiking really cost? A good pair of shoes, and a water bottle can get you started down a simple trail. You don't need to climb a mountain or hunt a bear in Alaska to find adventure outside.
If you are reading this and saying to yourself that the outdoors isn't for you, then maybe you have never actually experienced it. Ask someone to take you fishing, or ask someone to take you camping. The closest I have ever felt to God was staring the Grand Canyon in the face.
— The Rev
Kim Newnam, who's the associate executive director at the Benjamin Harrison Y, started her career with the organization as an aquatics instructor. She explains why the Y and swim lessons are synonymous: they invented 'em. A gent named George Corson developed group swimming lessons at the Y in the interest of preventing drowning deaths.
Kids can begin taking lessons at the age of 3, and then progress through the preschool levels. The levels are named after aquatic critters: pikes, eels, rays and starfish. At age 6, kids can begin learning as polliwogs, then advance to guppie, minnow, fish, flying fish and shark.
Of course, some folks are simply afraid of the water, no matter their age. It doesn't matter if a student's 3 or 83, the strategy is the same, says Kim: "We really try to get them comfortable, holding the wall, getting the faces wet, doing what we call 'bobs' — that's most important, getting their faces wet and blowing bubbles." Zero-depth entry pools help a great deal and the Y offers private lessons for those embarrassed by their fear — or those who really want to refine their strokes.
Kim reminds us that swimming is a great workout that carries zero joint impact: "It's the best therapeutic thing to do. We have arthritis classes, Silver Sneakers, name it — and you don't have to be a member to sign up for classes."
YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, multiple locations, indymca.org
— Ed Wenck
Yep, you're going to get wet, no two ways about it. A two-bladed kayak paddle cutting the water is going to splash into the boat, drip guards be damned. But the fear that the boat's going to tip out in the middle of a reservoir isn't nearly as likely as the novice paddler going ass-over-teakettle while getting into a dugout from shore.
Once you're in, though, a leisurely paddle is one of the most gentle upper-body workouts you'll encounter. Add some fine scenery to the sound of lapping water and jumping fish, and you can see why recreational kayaking is so popular.
A great way to get started — and to find out if this particular form of boating is, in fact, your jam — is to sign up for a sunset or full-moon paddle at Eagle Creek marina. A guide by the name of Jeff Coates takes groups of up to 35 boaters out on the water, and the flora and fauna are stunning: There are actually bald eagles in Eagle Creek park, and Coates knows where they roost. Blue heron and other shore birds are plentiful here, too.
If you're really lucky, though, you'll have reserved a spot on the paddle after a decent amount of rain, enough to make Fishback Creek passable. When that happens, the trip you'll experience is about as far removed from urban scenery as one can get in Marion County.
In addition to a crash course in paddling basics, Coates and company ensure your safety: boaters count off often, glow sticks mark your stern when darkness falls, and no one goes without a life jacket. Tip for beginners: "two-person kayak" is often another term for "marital argument."
Eagle Creek Outfitters also offers hourly rentals starting at $18 on both ocean and dugout kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, rowboats, pontoon boats and SUP (stand-up paddle) boards. If you're really feeling adventurous, sailing lessons are available, too. Rentals include flotation jackets. They open April 1.
Eagle Creek Outfitters, 7602 Walnut Point Road, 327-7130, $18-140, eaglecreek-outfitters.com
— Ed Wenck
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the opportunity for you, O Broke Hacker, to go out and ruin a good walk. Indy's got 13 public golf courses that range from the li'l ol' 3-par 9-hole course at Riverside Golf Academy to the Pete Dye courses at Eagle Creek and Sahm parks. And yes, a great many are open year 'round for you to get your bogey on. (Are you picking up that we have a pretty fat handicap here at the NUVO sports desk?) Gunga lagunga! Check out indy.gov/eGov/City/DPR/Golf/Pages/home.aspx for more deets.
— Ed Wenck
When it comes to bowling, Indianapolis has a truly unique offering here in the Midwest. Inside the Fountain Square Theatre Building, bowlers can find two separate vintage duckpin bowling alleys. Action Duckpin Bowl has eight lanes while the slightly smaller Atomic Duckpin Bowl is housed in the basement. Both alleys are furnished with authentic vintage equipment and café areas.
Duckpin bowling alleys are tough to find in this country. Most alleys are located in eastern states. Fountain Square's alleys are the only two in Indiana and two of the only locations in the entire Midwest. In comparison to conventional bowling, duckpin bowling uses a smaller ball and smaller pins. The balls used are slightly larger than a softball. The other key difference from standard bowling: Duckpin bowlers get three throws per frame as opposed to two. Strikes and spares are scored the same way. If a bowler knocks over the remainder of pins standing with his or her third ball, 10 pins are awarded for the frame with no bonus carrying over to the next frame.
Action Duckpin Bowl and Atomic Bowl Duckpin, 1105 Prospect St., hours vary, $30 per lane per hour, private rentals available, 317-685-1955 or 317-686-6006, fountainsquareindy.com
— Jack Carney
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
— The Big Lebowski, 1998
Royal Pin Bowling Centers, multiple locations, royalpin.com
Hindel Bowl, 6833 Massachusetts Ave. (Pendleton Pike), 317-545-1231, hindelbowl.com
Beech Grove Bowl, 95 N. 2nd Ave. (Beech Grove), 317-784-3743, bgbowl.com
All Star Bowl, 726 N. Shortridge Rd., 317-352-1848, allstarbowl1.com
The Godfather of Disc Golf, Hoosier Dennis Byrne, is something of a legend — Byrne ditched a manufacturing career to design courses, including a revolutionary course for the blind developed right here in Indy. The sport is cheap — most courses are free and a starter bag of three discs (a fairway driver, a disc for middle-distances and a putter) will only set you back about 25 bucks.
As Byrne told me in the Aug. 27, 2015 issue of NUVO: "If you told your wife you were going out for four or five hours with your buddies, leavin' the kids and the dog at home and droppin' a hundred bucks or more, she'd belt you before you got out the door. Tell her you're gone for 90 minutes, you're taking the kids AND the dog AND the course is free, she'll start the car for ya."
In that same story, we described the game thusly:
That "hole" is actually a basket. Above the basket's landing platform (a circular piece of metal with a rim suspended on a pole a few feet off the ground) is strung a network of chaining. A successful shot sees the disc strike the chains and either drop onto the metal surface below or nest in the links. Discs that hang on the edge or perch atop the basket don't count, and discs that strike the target and ricochet away aren't counted, either. The chains, in addition to providing the necessary "give" to keep clean shots from bouncing away, provide a sound that's critical to any game of this kind — the ringing of the links is just as aurally satisfying as hearing a small white ball find the bottom of a cup.
The courses are mostly free and open year-round. Check them out at indydiscgolf.com.
— Ed Wenck
Skateboarding is not a crime.
Major Taylor Skatepark, 3649 Cold Spring Road, 317-955-6000
Monon Center, 235 Central Park Drive East (Carmel), 317-848-7275
Pop Weaver Youth Pavilion
Mondays-Thursdays, 3-5 p.m.; Fridays, 3-5 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturdays 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Sundays 1-3 p.m. (TIMES MAY VARY, call ahead) Back in the day, you could skate on the same pad of ice that now hosts the Indy Fuel, but that's changed: the Pop Weaver Pavilion, just behind the Coliseum, hosts public skating and youth hockey. The skating pad's now called the "Cheri Daniels Arena," which is a nod to the MANY hours Indiana's former first lady spent at the Fairgrounds. There's a small shop that rents skates and sells some hockey gear, but as of this writing, we're not sure if the shop still has a black Labrador named "Puck." Concessions are often available, too.
Indiana State Fairgrounds, 317-927-7624, age 4 and older $6, 3 and younger FREE; figure skate rental $4, hockey skate rental $5, parking $5 per car
Carmel Ice Skadium
Dates/times vary. The Skadium updates its online calendar month-to-month as hockey games are scheduled, but often you'll see open public skating scheduled at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, "cosmic skating" at 7:30 some evenings and stick-and-pucks mixed in, too. The Skadium hosts learn-to-skate classes on its two pads of ice as well.
1040 3rd Ave. SW (Carmel) 317-844-8888, $7.25, 10 and younger $6, cosmic skate $9, stick and puck $8, skate rental $3
The Arctic Zone Iceplex
Dates/times vary. This single-pad-rink is run by the same folks who manage the Skadium, and their calendar for public skates/stick-and-puck sessions is updated online like their Carmel sister rinks.
16616 Southpark Drive (Westfield), 896-2155, $7.25, 10 and younger $6, cosmic skate $9, stick and puck $8, skate rental $3
The Indy Fuel Tank (Forum at Fishers)
Mondays-Thursdays, 12 noon-2 p.m.; Fridays, 12 noon-2 p.m and 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1-3 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1-3 p.m. (TIMES MAY VARY, call ahead) The old Forum changed its name after becoming the practice facility for Indy's AA hockey club, the Fuel. The Fuel sank 2.5 million into the facility, improving both pads of ice, expanding the pro shop and concessions, and adding training rooms for hockey players. The Tank (THAT NICKNAME IS AWESOME) will see schedule adjustments during hockey season, but the early-season schedule allowed for seven-day-a-week public skating.
9022 E. 126th St. (Fishers), 849-9930, $8, skate rental $4, indyfueltank.com
Weekdays, 12 noon-5 p.m. (TIMES MAY VARY, call ahead) With the closing of Ellenberger's rink (WE MISS THAT DUMP SO MUCH), this Southside institution is Indy Parks' last remaining ice rink. Along with public skating and youth hockey, Perry has adult pickup games, too. Beginners can rent "skate aids," which are kind of like walkers for the wobblers. The entire rink is also available for rent.
451 E Stop 11 Road, 888-0700, $6, youth (3-17) and senior (55+) $5, skate rental $3, skate aid $5
The Winter Club of Indianapolis
The Winter Club's been around since 1940, teaching kids and adults the fundamentals of both figure skating and hockey skating styles. Kids as young as 3 can sign up for "Snowplow Sam" classes to help your little one become the next Olympic Hero — or the child that sits on the ice and licks the snow off his hockey gloves. The Winter Club offers group instruction and private coaching, too. Info and pricing — and registration forms — can be found at their website, and more info is available via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the perks they offer: ice time at the Fairgrounds comes with free parking. Woo-hoo!
Various locations (including the State Fairgrounds), winterclubindy.org
The Ice Skating Club of Indianapolis
The ISCI, according to their site, encourages "the instruction, practice, and advancement of the members in compulsory figures, free skating, pairs skating, ice dancing, synchronized team skating and any other types of figure skating." This non-profit further "provides skaters the opportunity to skate on less crowded ice at club sessions. Club sessions are contracted by the ISCI for the enjoyment of the more serious recreational skater, the competitive figure or dance skater. The ISCI host several activities throughout the year, which include the Tony Todd Memorial Carmel Invitational each Fall and an Annual Ice Show."
Carmel Ice Skadium, 1040 3rd Avenue SW, skateisci.com
Sycamore Ice Skating Club
The Sycamore Club was founded in 1982 when Perry Park enclosed its ice rink (it had been an outdoor facility prior to that). The group soon "received a sanction from U.S. Figure Skating ... The founders even managed a spring ice show in April 1983 in this open-air rink. The spring show has continued annually as a club tradition." Their schedule of group sessions is robust and covers a wide variety of skill levels.
Perry Park, 451 E. Stop 11 Road, sycamoreisc.org
— Ed Wenck
Myra Fleener: You know, a basketball hero around here is treated like a god. How can he ever find out what he can really do? I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.
Coach Norman Dale: You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god — just for a few moments.
— Hoosiers, 1986
Yep, that about covers it.
Hoosier hoops occurs on Indiana's basketball courts, multiple locations (inside schools, churches and rec centers and outside on urban lots and hard-dirt fields in front of old barns)
Where exactly do we start here? At the keg, probably. Actually, we discovered an outfit called CCA (Circle City Athletics) that runs over a dozen "social sports" leagues. (We'll dig in to more of those later.) John Pantzer, founder of the group, tells us via email that their softball league is a coed group "geared towards fun and not the serious players. Teams range in skill, however most have the same mindset which is to have fun and enjoy a casual game of softball. [We use the] same general rules you would find in most softball leagues: Underhand slow pitch with a strike plate and height limit on pitches." Once you've registered twelve people for a team (games are 10 versus 10 with a minimum of three women), a glove or a mitt and 60 bucks is all an individual needs.
— Ed Wenck
The CCA's flag football leagues run outdoor games that match eight on eight players with at least three women per team and indoor games that run teams of seven. Seasons run for six weeks plus playoffs (which means a potential for nine weeks of play). For the rules, we'll go back to Pantzer: "No contact, blocking, punting, field goals. Teams ... make sure that both male and female players are given opportunities to make plays. First downs based on completions." Skill levels run from beginner to semi-pro, all gear's provided and you can get in for as little as $60 (depending on the location of the league you join). If you're not part of a fielded team, CCA will try to find you a roster spot.
— Ed Wenck
Jason Suscha, a multiple Horizon League Coach-of-the-Year winner during his 15-year run at Butler is now director of racquet sports at the JCC, explains to us why tennis is his jam even as he ages:
I enjoy striking the ball now, and there's some pretty serious running ... basketball's a little dangerous for me and tennis affords me that athletic workout. You can really push yourself physically. There's guys out there that can push each other. There were players a couple of years back that represented Team USA from Indianapolis on our national 75-and-over team.
The only difference is ten-and-under tennis, they play on a shorter court — or on a longer court with a lower compression ball. In wheelchair tennis, which we do here, the only modified rule is two bounces. If I play a guy in wheelchair, I'm allowed one bounce, he's allowed two — other than that, the rules are the same. It's very integrative.
If you're playing singles, you've gotta cover some court. If you're playing doubles — we've got an 80-and-older group that plays every Tuesday and Friday and there's not a lot of movement going on.
As far as gear goes, the average player can get a fine racquet for around $60, with high-end models coming in at about $180. Indoor courts for JCC members are $16 per hour, and there are free outdoor courts all over the city.
Other racquet sports
The JCC has three racquetball courts that are free to members — this model's duplicated at a lot of Indy's YMCA facilities, too. Squash is a sport that's vastly different than racquetball: the boundaries are much more restrictive, the racquets are longer and the ball smaller. For the right info on squash, start at the Indianapolis Racquet Club, indyracquet.com.
Badminton can be found at the Fishers Y, and if you're interested in "pickleball," a wild tennis/badminton hybrid that sees players working VERY close to the net with paddles and plastic balls that travel at one-third the speed of a tennis ball, there's a lot of info at usapa.org and lesson available at the Indianapolis Racquet Club.
JCC Indy, 6701 Hoover Road, 251-9467, jccindy.org
Indianapolis Racquet Club, 8249 Dean Road, 849-2531; 4901 N. Shadeland Ave., 317-545-2228; indyracquet.com
— Ed Wenck
Many kids rank recess and gym as their two favorite classes in grade school. With the exception of physical education teachers, most people don't get to enjoy these subjects as adults. CCA offers adults the chance to play the classic grade school game kickball in a league format. The group operates coed kickball recreational leagues that play on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday at various locations throughout Indianapolis. All of these spring leagues begin the week of March 28.
The CCA's rules are likely the same as you remember them from your youth. The game is played with 11 players from each team on a standard baseball diamond. Games are seven innings long. All balls are live — meaning a base runner, unless stationed on a base, is ruled out after any contact with the ball. Teams must field a minimum of four female players and a maximum of seven males. Also, every third kicker in the order must be female. The CCA requires a minimum of 12 players to set up a team but suggests teams have 16 to 18 players. League manager Ben Allen described CCA kickball as a fun sport everyone and anyone can play, regardless of skill level. More information regarding signups, schedules and rules can be found at ccasports.com. Fees run from $60-65 and include a six game regular season followed by a two-week playoff and a CCA shirt.
— Jack Carney
Surely concocted inside the imagination of an 8-year-old, it's the perfect marriage between two of childhood's greatest joys: pegging your friends with round objects and bouncing wildly on trampolines. I could easily see it becoming America's pastime after baseball and football fade away. Ultimate dodgeball is simply five on five dodgeball played on a field of dreams — wall to wall trampolines. Is this heaven? Locally the game can be played at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Fishers.
Sky Zone will be hosting multiple tournaments later this year where folks can sign up to participate. On May 18, the Fishers Sky Zone is partnering with the NFL Alumni Association to host the Matty Justice NFL Alumni Dodgeball Tournament. Teams of five to eight people can sign up for a total fee of $600 with all proceeds going toward pediatric cancer research. Each team will be assigned an ex-NFL player team captain from the alumni association.
With over 150 locations worldwide, Sky Zone also puts on an annual tournament called the Ultimate Dodgeball Championship (UDC). The tournament serves as a national championship where teams qualify at their local Sky Zone and advance eventually to a championship match in Las Vegas with the winner taking home a cash prize. Details for the tournament have not yet been released, but the event will take place either this summer or fall. (Check skyzone.com periodically for updates on both of these events.) Finally, you can always just show up to Sky Zone and play pickup trampoline dodgeball during their "Open Jump" time frames. The calendar on the website will show what times are available.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park, 10080 E. 121st St. (Fishers), 572-2999, one hour of jump time $14, two hours costs $21 person, skyzone.com
— Jack Carney
Possibly the youngest and most unique sport on our list, bike polo offers a new twist on a historic game. Although original cycle polo is actually over 100 years old, modern bike polo — played on hardcourts instead of grass — began only about 15 years ago in Seattle. The sport found a home in central Indiana seven years ago with the formation of the Indianapolis Bike Polo club.
The game takes the traditional highbrow horseback game of polo and moves players onto bicycles. The size of the court is approximately two tennis courts. In fact, the Indy Bike Polo club renovated the old rundown tennis courts at Arsenal Park into an official bike polo court four years ago.
The game consists of two teams of three players attempting to score goals by striking a roller hockey ball into the opposing team's net using a croquet-like mallet. Goals can only be scored with a strike off one of the flat ends of the mallet. No player is allowed to put his or her feet on the ground during the game. Defensively, body to body contact is legal if it's shoulder to shoulder. Defenders can also use their mallets to hook offensive players' mallets when they're in possession of the ball. Games are typically won by the first team to score five or with a 10 to 15 minute time limit.
There are no fees to play. New players simply need to bring a helmet and a good attitude. Per long time club member Nick Nacrelli, the club is an inclusive and loving community open to any and every one. He also noted the game is very addicting.
Tues. and Thurs., 6 p.m.; Sun. 12 noon (beginning in April). Arsenal Park, 46th St. and Haverford Road, indybikepolo.org
— Jack Carney
Commonly called "Ultimate Frisbee," the sport known simply as "Ultimate" has an ever-growing presence here in Indianapolis. Ultimate is a game in which teams progress down the field toward the end zone by passing a frisbee or disc. A standard Ultimate field is 70 yards long and 40 yards wide with end zones 25 yards deep. Each time a team is able to move all the down the field and complete a pass in their opponent's end zone, one point earned. There is no running with the disc and physical contact between players is illegal. Defenders can guard the disc thrower who has 10 seconds to pass the disc.
The Indiana Ultimate Association has a website (indyultimate.org) that houses a lot of helpful information regarding Ultimate pickup games taking place throughout the city, various leagues and clubs. For those looking to try the sport, the site lists all the different locations where and when games take place. The site also lists contact information of the organizers for these recurring games.
In addition to the many opportunities to play, Indianapolis is also the home to a professional Ultimate team. Founded in 2012, the Indianapolis AlleyCats are a member of the American Ultimate Disc League. The team's regular season begins with a game on Apr. 8 in Cincinnati and ends in July. The AlleyCats play all their home games at Roncalli Stadium. Currently fans can buy season tickets which include the seven home games for the price of five and 20 precent off at the AlleyCats gift shop.
Roncalli Stadium, 3300 Prague Road, myalleycats.com
— Jack Carney
For Hoosiers who had always dreamed of playing or watching traditional Irish field games, there's no need to buy that 3,700 mile flight to Dublin. The Indianapolis Gaelic Athletic Association (Indy GAA) has you covered. The Indy GAA has been playing hurling since 2005 and has more recently added camogie (women's hurling) and Gaelic football teams as well.
Hurling is an extremely old sport. It's thought to have been played in Ireland for at least 3,000 years. The game known as the "world's fastest field sport" consists of players carrying ax shaped sticks called hurleys attempting to hit a baseball sized ball called the sliotar into the opposing team's goal. The goals used are identical to standard soccer goals but with H-shaped field goal posts extending above the goal frame.
Hitting the sliotar into the goal itself will earn a team three points while hitting the ball above the goal but through the uprights earns one point. Games consist of two 25 or 30 minute halves. Traditional Irish teams consist of 15 players including one goalkeeper playing on a field that's 150 yards long by 100 yards wide. The Indy GAA typically plays on a pitch the size of a football field. Due to the smaller field, they'll usually play with 11 to 13 players per side.
According to longtime club member Rudy Nehrling, the game is a combination of many sports American kids play growing up including: baseball, tennis, hockey, golf and lacrosse. Every year the club's hurling season begins with members marching in the downtown Indianapolis St. Patrick's Day Parade. The club begins having open weekly practices shortly after the parade in late March. For this coming league season, the Indy GAA will field 10 teams each sponsored by a local business. Beyond this top league, the club offers playing opportunities for newcomers regardless of gender, age and experience level. To get involved, one simply needs to show up at one of the club's open weekly practices at Broad Ripple Park with a pair of cleats. (Note: practices will be transitioned to Arsenal Park later in the spring.) The club has extra helmets and hurleys to loan out to newcomers. If new players decide they want to invest in their own equipment, hurleys can be purchased for $30 to $50 at Good Earth Natural Food Co. in Broad Ripple. Hurling helmets cost around $110. More information about the Indy GAA including the open practice schedule can be found at indygaa.com.
Broad Ripple Park, 1500 Broad Ripple Ave.
Indy GAA, indygaa.com
Good Earth Natural Food Co., 6350 Guilford Ave., 253-3709, good-earth.com
— Jack Carney
In addition to hurling and camogie, the Indianapolis Gaelic Athletic Association (Indy GAA) also offers opportunities to play Gaelic football, another traditional Irish sport. Although the Indy GAA has been in existence since 2005, 2015 marked the first year the club fielded official Gaelic football teams. Gaelic football is identical to hurling in many ways. The game is played on the exact same pitch or field with the same goal structures. Each team fields 15 players including one goalkeeper. Scoring a goal is worth three points while a ball put through the uprights is good for one point. The key difference between the two sports is the ball that's used. Unlike in hurling, in Gaelic football there are no sticks used to whack a small ball around; rather, a basketball-sized leather ball is used and goals are scored via kicks. The ball resembles an oversized volleyball. Players advance the ball up the field using a variety of techniques including: carrying, bouncing in a similar manner to basketball-dribbling, kicking, hand-passing and soloing. In order to solo down the field, while running a player will repeatedly drop the ball to his feet and then kick it back up into his hands. It's a more difficult technique to master, but it's advantageous in that a player can solo continuously. Otherwise, there are limits to the number of consecutive steps and dribbles a player can take with the ball.
Defensively, players can make contact with the ball carrier shoulder to shoulder, and they can slap the ball out the offensive player's hands. Similar to the club's hurling and camogie schedule, open practices begin in late March after St. Patrick's Day at Broad Ripple Park. The club welcomes anyone regardless of age to come out and try the sport. If, after a few practices, a newcomer decides to join the club, there is an annual fee. High school and college students pay $25 per year while all others pay $125. The fee covers all practices, games, a jersey and access to free pizza and discounted drinks at Connor's Pub in Broad Ripple after practices. More information about the Indy GAA including the open practice schedule can be found at indygaa.com.
Broad Ripple Park, 1500 Broad Ripple Ave.
Indy GAA, indygaa.com
— Jack Carney
CCA has coed volleyball for all levels of play, and these guys host more than 180 teams per season. According to Pantzer, both versions run the "same rules, rally scoring. Recreational leagues are more relaxed against carries, and some of the more fundamental aspects of volleyball; however, teams are good about calling blatant penalties. No net contact permitted. Sand volleyball 'Sixes' (as in, six players per side) follows indoor rules. Quads follows beach doubles rules and is played on a short court." Fees start at $60, all gear's provided.
(See our listings of available pads of ice in "Public Skating" above.)
As a college student in 1999, Tom Kareus got the "broomball bug," as he calls it. Seventeen years later he's still hooked on the sport, and he thinks you'll get the bug too if you give it a try. Tom now helps run Columbus Broomball in Columbus, IN and also runs an online broomball equipment sales site midwestbroomball.com.
Broomball is basically ice hockey with more scoring and no skating. Players run around the ice wearing specialized broomball shoes swatting a miniature soccer ball into oversized hockey goals. Instead of using actual brooms or hockey sticks, players use a stick that has the length of a conventional broom but ends with a hard plastic triangular piece used for ball striking. From a distance the sticks resemble lacrosse sticks. Up close, they look like extra-long fly swatters. The rules are very similar to hockey. There are six players including a goalie on the ice for each team. Unlike hockey, body checking is illegal. (Additionally, Columbus Broomball games run two 20-minute halves as opposed to three periods.)
Columbus Broomball, the closest broomball group to the Indianapolis area, plays all its games at Hamilton Center Ice Arena in Columbus. The club offers winter and summer leagues. A season typically consists of 12 to 14 games plus single elimination playoffs. There is a fee of $1,000 per team to play for one season. Teams typically consist of 12 to 20 players. Equipment such as shoes, helmets and sticks can be purchased at midwestbroomball.com. A player could acquire the needed equipment to get started in the sport for about $100 to $150. Prospective players interested in trying out the game should contact Tom (email@example.com) or Scott Herron (firstname.lastname@example.org). Whether you want to join a league or just give the sport a try, Tom and Scott can help you get started. As Tom says, "What better way to go out and have some fun with your friends than exercising in a refrigerator?"
Hamilton Ice Center Arena, 2501 Lincoln Park Drive (Columbus), midwestbroomball.com
— Jack Carney
You'll notice something if you've ever skated at the Arctic Zone in Westfield: The proper markers, targets and boundaries for curling. This ice serves as home to the Circle City Curling Club. This might beg the question: Why only here? After stints at Fishers and the now-defunct Ellenberger rinks (among others), the CCCC found a home for its stones that was willing to dedicate its ice to their special needs, as defined on their website:
Ice for skating and hockey is prepared by a Zamboni machine running over the surface of the ice, filling in the nooks and crannies from skate marks, and making a somewhat level surface. Curling ice is prepped differently. It needs to be extremely level, pebbled (this is where we spray hot water droplets on top of the ice which freeze so the stones can glide over the pebbled surface) and at just the right temperature for stones to slide smoothly and consistently. It's also best if the stones are kept cold and the humidity is well controlled to prevent condensation, something we cannot do at our current facility. One of the goals of almost any curling club is to make the transition from arena ice, to a dedicated curling facility.
The Club offers "Learn to curl" clinics that cover sweeping, delivering the stone and strategy for $30 per person.
The Arctic Zone Iceplex, 16616 Southpark Drive (Westfield), 896-2155, circlecitycurling.wordpress.com
— Ed Wenck