Need something to do over spring break in West Michigan?
Summer Sports Events Range from Track and Table Tennis to Golf and Baseball
It’s been a long spring waiting for the weather to turn warm enough to fire up grills, light fireworks and wear swimsuits to enjoy Michigan’s summer season. But regardless of the outdoor temperatures, athletes in West Michigan have been on fire competing in some major regional and national sporting events (some for the first time in Michigan) that we are proud to host in our part of the state. Here is a quick recap of some of our larger sporting events and previews of a few to come:
NCAA DII Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 22-24) – Grand Valley State University hosted this first-in-Michigan elite collegiate running meet that attracted top runners from more than 100 universities in the country, including many Michigan schools in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) – drawing 750 athletes and 300 coaches to the three-day meet. And GVSU never looked better with its recently completed, state-of-the-art outdoor track facility (one of the reasons Grand Rapids won the NCAA championship bid) featuring a lighted, nine-lane, 400-meter outdoor and seating for 800. Our visiting athletes loved the experience too, as some of these Chico State University students attested.
Meijer State Games – Summer Games (June 20-22) – In its fifth year, the Meijer State Games – Summer Games was bigger and better than ever with 39 sports and almost 7,000 athletes. Some new additions this year included a Torch Tour through eight cities starting in St. Ignace and ending in Grand Rapids to participate in the Opening Ceremonies – plus new sporting events including 7-on-7 Football Passing Tournament, Bocce Ball, Cyclocross, Longboarding (Urban Downhill), Horseshoes, Table Tennis, Synchronized Swimming and Triathlon. And it’s never too early to plan ahead – mark your calendar for the Winter Games scheduled for Feb. 20-22, 2015.
USA Table Tennis US Open (July 1-5) – Grand Rapids is becoming synonymous with table tennis as we hosted our third US Open for table tennis earlier this month, drawing 700 of the top-rated domestic and international male and female athletes over a five-day period – including some of the youngest players ever to compete at this level. Participants from 21 countries competed in 86 event divisions on 100 tables for prize money of $65,000. Missed the action? Check out some images by MLive who covered the tournament daily.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Art Van Sports Complex Grand Opening (Aug. 1) – After seven years of planning and a few years of construction, the championship-caliber Art Van Sports Complex in Plainfield Township officially opens for business in early August. The first of its kind in West Michigan, the complex features eight baseball and softball fields, including a fenced championship field; covered championship grandstands to seat 1,000; a Miracle Field for children with disabilities; plus warm-up areas, restrooms, concessions and picnic shelters. Another quad of fields will be added in a second phase. The complex should attract more than 75 events and 135,000 visitors in its first five years, with an economic impact for Kent County in excess of $20 million. A grand opening ceremony takes place Aug. 1 for donors, followed by weekend tournaments and a free intramural game Sept. 13 by Michigan State University’s men’s baseball team. Follow tournament-related news at artvansportscomplex.com.
Meijer LPGA Classic (Aug. 4 – 10) – The best players in women’s golf will head to Grand Rapids for the first time in more than a decade for the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club. The classic will host a full field of 144 players playing 72 holes of stroke play over four days of competition. The tournament will be the LPGA Tour’s first stop in Michigan since 2000 when the Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing ended its nine-year run, as well as the first annual golf event to take place in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula since 2009 when the PGA Tour last hosted the Buick Open in Grand Blanc. Tickets range from $15 for a day ticket to $50 for a weekly upgraded pass.
Enjoy your summer, and get out to your nearest sports facility to take in a regional or national tournament!
Sports are good for our quality of life – they keep us healthy and teach us about teamwork.
I truly enjoy the social connections made possible by organized sports.