Nearly 15,000 young soccer players on nearly 1,000 different teams from around the globe competed in the Schwan’s USA Cup soccer tournament in Blaine last month.
Icons of the golf world and PGA champions competed in the 3M Championship golf tournament at the TPC in Blaine a couple of weeks ago. And more than 10,000 competitors from 205 nations engaged in a 300-event sporting celebration during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
If snapshots and live scenes of these games – near and far – have motivated you to get up and get active, don’t be intimidated by the talent and drive of the world’s elite. Rather, be inspired by their passionate enthusiasm and incorporate these words as mantra, words printed on a banner athletes carried overhead during the 1948 London Summer Olympic Games: “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not the winning but the taking part. The essential thing in life is not the conquering but the fighting well.”
Our hometowns offer an eclectic mix of activities and athletic endeavors in which to take part. Consider your interests, your abilities and your goals and then go ahead, give it a try. Discover the greatness inside of you.
There are paved walking/biking/running paths weaving through and around many of Anoka County’s cities. In Anoka, you’ve got the Henry Hammer trail which winds along the Rum River. In Coon Rapids, the Mississippi River Regional Trail tracks through the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. In fact, most of the county parks have a length of paved trails, so strap on your shoes or climb on board your bicycle and go for a walk or a run or a ride.
If swimming is your sport of choice, you could take a dip in the pool at the Anoka Aquatic Center or plunge into the waters at Laddie Lake in Blaine or Crooked Lake in Coon Rapids.
You could canoe or kayak the rivers and paddle the local waters for a little aquatic sport. After all, Anoka County’s got water, water everywhere with the Rum and Mississippi rivers, Laddie Lake, Cenaiko Lake, Bunker Lake, Round Lake, Crooked Lake, Coon Lake, Coon Creek, Lake George, Ham Lake … like I said, “Water, water everywhere.”
If you’re itching to drop a line, why not fish those waters – just be sure to get your fishing license in order before taking your first cast. And speaking of fishing leads me to hunting, which leads me to trap shooting. If this is your passion, check out the Metro Gun Club, located in Blaine and equipped with trap shooting, clay pigeons and sport shooting of all sorts.
If golfing’s your game, there’s Green Haven Golf Course in Anoka; Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids; Victory Links in Blaine; Majestic Oaks in Ham Lake; and the Links at Northfork and Rum River Hills in Ramsey.
And there’s mini golf, too: Lilli Putt in Coon Rapids and Goony Golf at Spring Lake Park Amusement Park, just to name a couple.
On the playing field, there are softball leagues and soccer associations by the dozens for the elite and the novice alike. Just check with your local community athletic association to review the opportunities that await.
Or what about a backyard game of horseshoes or lawn jarts or bean bag toss or ladder golf or just a game of catch?
There is so much to do and so many opportunities to do it, and so, fueled by determination to “take part” and “fight well” choose an activity you’d like to try – and get out there and get your game on. The victory and sure celebration of activity will be a lasting reward for your athletic endeavors – however modest or novice they may be.
We celebrate the gift of raw talent that Olympic athletes have, but we also celebrate the hard work, the dedication, the diligence – the catalyst that transforms that gift into greatness.
Everyone can own a piece of that glory. Play on! And “Go for the gold”en memories of playful competition and carefree fun – who needs hardware when you’ve got good health and happiness brought on by athletic activity of all sorts.