In Like a Lion – March Serves Up Blockbuster Sporting Month

When it comes to sports in West Michigan, we are fortunate to have not only many teams to watch, but events in which to participate. And this winter is no exception.

First, we came off the heels of one of our largest sports participation events of our year – the Meijer State Games of Michigan. This time, it was the inaugural Winter Games – a welcome diversion during a long winter that actually celebrated winter sports (snowball softball, anyone?). And what a success! More than 1,600 athletes traveled from 25 different Michigan counties to play in 12 sports, contributing half a million dollars in direct visitor spending that benefited West Michigan hotels and businesses. If you missed it, check out some great moments from the Opening Ceremonies and freestyle events on our highlight reel. Who needed to travel to Sochi with this in West Michigan? Check the MSGOM website for Winter Games results.

  

Then March roared in with another type of sport – table tennis. Comedian/Actor Judah Friedlander, most commonly known as the trucker hat-wearing Frank Rossitano on NBC’s “30 Rock,” challenged Grand Rapids USA Table Tennis Hall-of-Famer Dell Sweeris to a media-access-only match while Judah was in town for LaughFest. A USA Table Tennis-ranked player himself, Judah asked for a table to play on during the two-week comedy festival. We decided this would be great opportunity to not only support Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, but also to highlight the USA Table Tennis - US Open coming to DeVos Place July 1-5. Partnering with JOOLA and Pepsi, we provided a table for comedians to use during the festival (and hopefully autograph). Following LaughFest, we will take the table to community events to promote the US Open and ultimately raffle it off during the US Open.

Check out some of the action photos here – and even though Dell won the match, the smack talk died down as the two table tennis athletes bonded over the sport – Dell even gave Judah a new hat for his collection!

Our sights now turn to ice hockey, as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) holds its annual flagship event – the WCHA Final Five – in Michigan for the first time. Not only will ice hockey fans get to enjoy the tournament March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, but they get to see one of their own, with Michigan’s own Ferris State Bulldogs advancing as one of the four teams. The Final Five winner receives the Broadmoor Trophy and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Div. 1 Ice Hockey Championship tournament. The schedule includes two semi-final match ups on Friday, March 21, followed by the Broadmoor Trophy championship game on Saturday, March 22. Tournament ticket packages and single game tickets can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place box offices, www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets, or charged at 800-745-3000. Check out the full schedule of WCHA Final Five tournament information.

And whether you have a tournament ticket or not, the entire community is invited to celebrate the WCHA Final Five Championship coming to town at the free WCHA Kickoff Party Thursday, March 20, 4 – 8 p.m. at the Deltaplex Arena & Convention Center. Highlights include a singing contest in which one winner will be chosen to sing live during the WCHA Final Five in addition to receiving prizes plus two tickets to the WCHA Final Five hockey game, plus live music, games, jumbo TV screens to watch March Madness basketball, children’s activities, plus food and drink concessions.

Who says you can’t have sporting fun in Michigan in winter!

Mike

Mike Guswiler
Guest Blogger
Mike is the President of the West Michigan Sports Commission.

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