The Year in Sports: The Akron Edition (2017)

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The Year in Sports: The Akron Edition

01/04/2018

 

Akron Aviators

What was great about your 2017?

What was great about your 2017?

Being able to get out of my comfort zone and try something new! Not that the entertainment industry is a comfortable position—it’s ever-changing. I got my first platinum plaque in 2017 and was able to close some international music deals while overseas just days after I’d signed the paperwork to start the Akron Aviators and bring professional basketball back to Akron!

How are you building on that?

I think we all have plans and goals individually and collectively. That’s what 2018 is about. Building, growing and developing a better relationship with the community.

Who on your team deserves a shout out?

While there are a few players who stand out for their efforts on and off the court, all of our players deserve recognition, but especially Marc Cook, our Vice President of Operations. His support and preparations have been invaluable. Ali Bilal, Sean Howard, Jorel Horton, Anthony Paul, Rayshawn Stevens, Jason Pitts, Davon Eley and Malik Billingsley have put energy and effort into not only furthering themselves but the organization.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

Continuing to grow the team and my artist, Layla Khepri! Her single, “Smile and Wave” (Royal Heir/Stoney Burke/Ingrooves) has been exploding and topping charts. I’m thrilled for HER. And back to basketball: playing up in Hawaii in February!

Tell us something folks should know about your team.

This is the first year of many. The relationships we have now will only get stronger and I can’t wait for the positives that come with it.

What do you hope to see happen for Akron in 2018?

Appreciation for the talent that’s here, not only in sports, but entertainment, food, culture, intelligence, and opportunity. This is a great city and we’re proud to be contributors to it.

Rockmill Climbing, Yoga & Fitness

What was great about your 2017?

What was great about your 2017?

2017 was the first year we really found our feet and were able to start reaching outside the gym and partnering with the community. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with outstanding organizations like HiHO Brewing, The Mustard Seed, The Akron Art Museum, Cleveland MetroParks and our friends at The Devil Strip!

How are you building on that?

We’ll be doing plenty of outreach during 2018. Our community here is amazing and we want to share it with everyone. We’re working on ways to introduce more people to climbing and active lifestyles. January 20, we’ll be hosting an open house where anyone can come check out the space and take climbing, yoga, and alternative fitness classes for free.

Who at your gym deserves a shout out?

Our friendly parking lot cat, Tux. Hope you’re doing well.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

We’ve tripled the size of our fitness space and are launching alternative fitness classes nearly every night of the week at the start of the year. We’re psyched to make Rock Mill more accessible for folks who might not immediately have an interest in climbing, but want to take a Rings or an AcroFit class to stay in shape while having fun.

Tell us something folks should know about your gym.

“I could never do that,” is something we hear people say a lot when they find out that we’re a climbing gym. More than anything, Rock Mill is a community of diverse and supportive people who are all here for different reasons. There’s something here for everyone, regardless of experience or athletic ability, and odds are, you’ll make a new friend the very first time you come in.

What do you hope to see happen for Akron in 2018?

More community-organized projects and events. More small business. More of what we already love about Akron. We’re on a really positive trajectory right now and it’s awesome to see the whole community so excited about our city.

Akron Rugby Football Club

How are you building on your success in 2017?

What was great about your 2017?

2017 continued to be a positive build for the Akron rugby club, where we got to help new players learn the game as we help veteran players continue to build on their rugby competence and strategies (rugby IQ). The relationship that was built and strengthened between the Akron Men’s Club and the University of Akron team allowed both teams to further develop the game, individuals, and the strengthen the team relationships. For the women’s team we saw a great influx of rookie players, who were eager to learn, and become a great part of this sport and club that we call family. We were also excited that we had our inaugural season of the youth program, The Greater Akron Joeys, which is a free community rugby program aimed at kids 6-12 in the Akron Area.

How are you building on that?

Akron Rugby is working to keep up with the constant energy of recruiting that we saw bring us some success in 2017. As well as continue to focus on individual player development. We are working harder than ever with our partner and sponsor Michael Meeker at Big Tree Fitness to help strengthen the teams and individual players strength, speed, and agility. We are hoping to continue to build on our Greater Akron Joey’s Program and bridge into schools, community centers, and other agencies to help promote and bring youth rugby to the forefront of the Akron community. In terms of the teams, the Akron Men’s team specifically would like to continue to build on making the team a play-off contending program. The women’s team would like to continue to build on our rookies who were a key part of the 2017 year and continue to utilize our veterans who are key building blocks on our team.

Who on your team deserves a shout out?

There are so many deserving individuals and groups that invest and make up Akron Rugby Club as well as the men’s and women’s teams. In terms of Sponsors we would not be where we are without Annabelle’s Bar and Lounge, Big Tree Fitness, Western Reserve Hospital, Pat Weigel with Penn Mutual, Ray Bertolini Trucking Co, Yankee Bionics, and Mark  Andrade with International Try Zone. We would also like to thank the Greater Akron Rugby Foundation for their continued support of the Akron Men and Women’s Club, giving us a beautiful property to call home, and supporting local high school rugby. On the Akron Men’s Team we would like to thank our coaching staff, Tommy Little and Freddy Warmbrodt, Former Men’s President and Akron Joey’s Founder Bob Perko, and Team Captain, Dominic Tomei for their guidance and support of this team. The Akron Women’s team would like to also thank our coaching staff Dana Bullock and Angela Duarte for pushing the team to run those extra sprints, and handling things likes bosses, the team president Leila Halay for being the glue that has helped hold the team together, and Emily Ramsey team captain who has been a solid example of strength on the field. We would also like to thank all of the Old Boys and Girls, our executive boards, current and former players, rookies, fans, friends and families who have allowed this club to be around for 46 years and 16 years respectively.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

2018 will be exciting for Akron Rugby as we work on breaking ground for our second field, traveling to tournaments as a club, building on the successful 2017 7’s season, having a great Old Boy’s Weekend(seeing our rugby friends and family from far and wide), and seeing a successful Prom on the Pitch (Our big annual charity event that supports the Andrea Rose Foundation and the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties).

Tell us something folks should know about your team.

Akron Rugby is always looking for new players and supporters with and without rugby knowledge or history. We practice Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 pm to 8 pm during the season (August to December for Fall season, February to June for spring season, and June to July for Summer 7’s season). Our home field is located at 1763 Wadsworth Road, and is host to rugby from men’s, women’s, college and high school teams alike. We encourage everyone to check us out on our website at akronrugby.com as well as all social media platforms, such as facebook (@akronrugby and Wakronwomensrugby), twitter (@akronRFC), and Instagram (@akronRFC). For those interested in youth rugby our Greater Akron Joeys Program is on facebook at facebook.com/akronjoeys.

What do you hope to see happen for Akron in 2018?

Akron is a great city to belong to. The diversity, openness, and hometown proud found in Akron is unmatched in fewer places. I read an article once that stated social offerings, openness and beauty were three developments that emerged as the leading factors for community attachment in Akron, and there couldn’t be no better statements. Both Dominic and myself have traveled extensively nationally and internationally, and there is no place that makes us prouder to call Akron home. The growth of the arts program, local businesses, and the community has been excited to watch and we hope that it continues. Akron has this thing about it that just gives its community members an emotional attachment that makes people hometown proud. We have Lock 3 that hosts a large variety of ethnic festivals, parades, concerts, and inclusive events that boast Akron Pride, and seeing more of these events would be amazing. When the pride of a community is strong,we also see a growth of economics this plays into a place people feel safe settling in.  With events, like Porch Rocker, Pride, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Akron Marathon, they all show the diversity and openness that Akron has to offer which is what we hope continues to expand, grow and blossom.

Stay in Play Recreation

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

What was great about your 2017?

Logan: 2017 was a huge year for us and we saw a pretty large increase in the number of adult Akronites coming out to Downtown and Goodyear Heights to play in our leagues, tournaments and other fun events.

Andrew: There’s a lot to be excited about looking back on 2017; a highlight for me was the successful pilot and launch of our adult recreational kickball leagues. I’m really excited to branch out to other group sports and activities on top of volleyball and kickball.

How are you building on that?

L&A: We started out testing our social venture with volleyball, and will definitely keep sand and indoor volleyball as core offerings but we’re really excited to branch out and test out new group sports/activities that get more people to have fun around Downtown Akron both on weekdays and weekends. We have had friends and participants reach out to us since day 1 asking about different sports leagues like basketball, flag football and wiffle ball/softball. We fully intend to roll out these leagues as soon as we have found the appropriate spaces and look forward to working with The City of Akron and other partners that allow us to further experiment with traditional and “weird ideas.”

Who in your organization deserves a shout out?

L&A: We both want to give a shout out to Annal (Anoo) Vyas and the rest of the University of Akron EXL Center team. We worked with two great interns this summer (Zach & Rachel) which allowed us to keep the kickball leagues running smoothly every week as well as help us plan and execute our first ever volleyball tournament called Blocktoberfest. We also want to shout out a few of the great local Akron businesses that helped sponsor our summer leagues like High St. Hop House, The Lockview, and Ray’s Pub.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

Logan: I’m excited about bringing more people to downtown Akron. This entire venture started off with us staring at a sandbox and wondering if we could get people to come play. We have so many ideas and so many creative ways to activate spaces, hopefully, in 2018 we unearth a couple more recreational venues that are hiding in plain sight.

Andrew: I am excited to continue meeting Akronites of all stripes and working together to make the city more fun and friendly. I consider myself to be a pretty personable and optimistic person, so I look forward to connecting with new folks that I have yet to meet.

Tell us something folks should know about your organization.

L&A:

Sticking with a sports metaphor, this is how we believe we can transform downtown Akron. A Field of Dreams: Akron. “Play. People will come, Play. They’ll come to downtown Akron for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn down your main street not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your courts as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say, “It’s only $300 per team.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and recreation they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved courts somewhere along the towpath, where they rode bikes when they were children. And they’ll play the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters of the Cuyahoga. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come play. If you build it, they will come…and play.

What do you hope to see happen for Akron in 2018?

Andrew: I hope that the efforts of the entrepreneurial/small business community continue to be so supportive and collaborative. I feel a powerful momentum and positivity when it comes to those who have invested (time, money knowledge, etc.) and put down roots here in Akron.  Also, as an employee at the former Akron Global Business Accelerator (now BOUNCE), I hope that the city and various stakeholders bring that grand vision to reality.

Logan: As much as I hate construction, detours, and traffic cones, I am genuinely excited to see downtown transform through the TIGER grant and other various projects and reinvestment like The Bowery Project.

Akron Roller Derby Team

What was great about your 2017?

What was great about your 2017?

2017 was the inaugural year for AKRD. The Rubber City Roller Girls and NEO Roller Derby came together to form a “megateam.” Our charter team climbed the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) ranks to #114 and our B-team (AK-Rowdy Roller) finished the home season undefeated.

How are you building on that?

We are looking to continue climbing the WFTDA ranks by training harder and possibly participating in tournaments in and outside of Ohio. Learning new skills and strategies to use in bouts. Add more players to our teams.

Who on your team deserves a shout out?

All of the BOD members who worked hard to make the merge possible, it takes a lot of time outside of practices to coordinate events and make things happen. Shoutout to our Jeerleaders, volunteers and loyal fans that have stuck with us before and after the merge.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

This year we hosted a bootcamp for new skaters to join the team. We are always looking for new teammates (and referees too!) Our training at practices has become more specialized and intense. We hope to participate in more games out of the state to form relationships with teams across the country.

Tell us something folks should know about your team.

Roller derby is all about inclusivity and diversity. What some people don’t realize is that when we aren’t giving it our all at practices, we are just regular people from all walks of life coming together for our love of roller derby. Roller derby is a TOUGH sport. It’s not just about hard hits, there is so much strategy involved as well. We have fun but also play to win.

What do you hope to see happen for Akron in 2018?

AKRD would love to see local interest in roller derby to expand. It was a huge step for derby when ESPN3 aired the WFTDA Championships nationally in November. We want to show the world that this isn’t your grandma’s roller derby, and Akron is the place to see it.

 

Akron Racers

The Akron Racers, who finished their season at 26-24 for the 2016-17 season, celebrated one of their own who made history. Racers right fielder AJ Andrews came back to Akron as the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. You can read our July interview with AJ online at bit.ly/AJAndrews (PHOTO:

Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series

The 2017 Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series received a “2017 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism Award” from Sports Destination Management magazine this year —  one of only two marathons among this year’s national winners. September’s Akron Marathon welcomed more than 15,000 runners from 40 states and seven countries, plus 120,000 spectators; more than 3,000 volunteers provided their time and talents. The estimated economic impact from the series was $5.85 million throughout Summit County.

Akron Rubber Ducks

The Rubber Ducks finished the 2016-17 season going 69-71, but some former Rubber Ducks had big years, none better than 24-year-old alum Francisco Lindor who slugged 33 homers, made his second consecutive All-Star appearance and came in fifth in the MVP race. It was also a good year for two standouts from the previous year’s championship Rubber Ducks team: Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer, who made it to the majors in 2017, though Frazier did it with the Yankees after the trade that brought late-inning stopper Andrew Miller to Cleveland. 

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