Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Its coaching ranks are loaded with former college players, and the games can be as intense as anything you'll see on Sunday television. The American Youth Football League has 14 traveling teams and hundreds of players in seven age and weight groups, ranging from 75-pound peewees to high-school-aged unlimiteds. And since it's in South Florida, which produces a ton of gridiron talent, it's got some of the best youth football in the country. You think Little League baseball is exciting? Please. AYFL kids work twice as hard, and so do the coaches and parents. Football moms (and dads) put their more publicized counterparts on the soccer field to shame — and it shows at Saturday game time.
The beaches of Broward County are so densely developed that it's hard to find a strip of sand that's not swarming with sunburned tourists, sand-kicking kids, and football-hurling college students. If it's privacy you prize, come to the beach by 11 a.m., when it's still cheap to park your car in Fort Lauderdale's public lot, just across from the Oasis Café on the beach side of A1A. Drive to the south end to park, near the Yankee Clipper hotel. Grab your lounge chair and start flip-flopping south. You may encounter a few hotel guests, maybe a couple residents of the high-rise condos, but the farther south you go, the more privacy you'll find. Stop before Port Everglades, though, unless you want to swim to the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park across a channel full of zooming boats and crazy-big cruise ships.
White beaches and crystal-clear water are staples around the Palm Beach area, but sprawling Jupiter Beach kicks it up a notch. The streets and city are hidden by a thick barrier of foliage that makes it feel as if you've stumbled onto a secluded tropical island. A wide sand-stretch makes for plenty of perfect places to sun without having to plant your chair so close to some pasty tourist that you can read every word of his John Grisham novel. Jupiter Beach also allows dogs — providing you pick up a doggie bag at one of the beach's boardwalk entrances (and isn't Fido a great way to protect yourself from the pasty tourist's awkward come-on lines?). Sun? Check. Sand? Check. Surf? Check. A sense of seclusion? Check. Sunning on warm shores in solitude? Paradise.
Every Wednesday evening, starting around 9:30 p.m., the she-men at Lips host the raunchiest bingo game in South Florida. If you're not up for the 7 p.m. dinner drag show, but want to get your bingo on, then slide into a seat at the bar and order up some drinks. There's no cover charge. Host Misty Eyez starts the competition by informing the after-dinner crowd that if they're approaching bingo, they'd better moan like porn stars. Otherwise, Misty Eyez won't validate the winning cards. "No silent fucks," she informs. Three games commence, with prizes like free brunch or dinner for two at, you got it, Lips. The crowd votes on which bingo patterns they want to play, ranging from the sedate "X" to the suggestive "Inside Square" — at Lips this pattern is renamed "Glory Hole" — to the self-explanatory "Cock-and-Balls." If you can take the bawdy jokes and insults, this just might be the cheapest bingo match around.
With the charming sound of crashing pins, eight plasma-screen TVs, a video game arcade, and nightly family specials (because if a cheese pizza, soda, and two hours of bowling can't make your kids love you again, nothing can), Pompano Bowl is what sweet childhood memories are made of. It's full of families every night of the week, all wearing ugly shoes and lounging on the black couches (you know it's a good bowling alley when it doesn't have those hard plastic chairs). When bowling's appeal wanes, head over to the lounge side — the dark part of the bowling alley, with the red couches instead of black —and grab a beer or something stronger from Joey's Bar & Grill. A beer or two can only improve your game, right?
When FAU decided to create a football program in 1998, the first thing university officials did – before they had a single player or a football field – was hire the team's coach, the face of the program. And who was more qualified to build a team from scratch than Howard Schnellenberger, who had already rebuilt blue-chip programs at the University of Miami and the University of Louisville? The Owls didn't start playing until 2001, but the coach was not shy about his ambition: he wanted a national championship. This year, at 73 years of age, Schnellenberger, who also once coached the Baltimore Colts, proved FAU brass made the right choice. In only its third season in Division 1, the team went 8-5, winning the Sun Belt conference. The Owls became the youngest program ever to be invited to play in a bowl game, a berth they celebrated with a 44-27 victory over Memphis in the New Orleans bowl. Schnellenberger, named conference coach of the year, had done it again.
You're bored with the gym: All you do there is run on the treadmill. You're not a gerbil, dammit. At the SLC Dance Factory in Hollywood, you can sculpt your sexy self without dying of repetition. Ever noticed how ripped most dancers are? That doesn't happen from lifting weights or running in a straight line. Dancers tighten and tone key zones while building endurance. Isn't that what you want? Get your cardio up to speed with SLC's intense Breakdancing class, where you'll grunt, gyrate, and shake whatcha momma gave you to a fly rap soundtrack, featuring jams by Flo Rida, Soulja Boy, and Lil' Jon. On the more titillating side, try SLC's Pole Dancing classes, where the instructors keep you spinning and climbing until your abs look like a frat boy's and you only answer to your new stripper name (that's "Destini," with an "i"). Need to take some junk out of your trunk? Go for Stiletto Cardio night. Have you neglected your core? Swivel your hips to authentic Cuban rhythms in the Azucar! class. After your workout, admire your budding muscle groups while you suck down a drink from SLC's juice bar or munch on a vegan snack from the raw food bar. Take a moment to say goodbye to the treadmill — then scoot your ass over to SLC.
Be sure to pack your macaroni strainer when you set out for a day of canoeing on the Peace River. Here, it's not just the live oak trees and hawks that are the attraction — it's the camel teeth! Yes, that's right — scientists say that from the Eocene Epoch (50 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Epoch (11,500 years ago), our home turf was trampled upon by sharks, dolphins, mammoths, mastodons, and yes, camels. The limestone earth in Central Florida made a comfy resting ground for lots of their dentures, not to mention the occasional giant armadillo part and a whale ear bone or two. During your canoe ride, take some time to set down your beer (yes, you can bring coolers) to hop in and out of the boat and sift through the bottom-dirt to see if you find any such treasures. Because Arcadia is just a three-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale, a two-hour, five-mile canoe trip or a ten-mile half-day paddle can be easily done in a day. (A 16-mile trip is best enjoyed with an overnight stay; Canoe Outpost rents tents, and you're allowed to have campfires on the riverbank.) What's that, you ask? Gator teeth? Although our scaly friends do call the Peace River home (and yes, you'll probably see some), the folks at Canoe Outpost swear you can make them keep their distance by donning "gator beads" — gator-shaped Mardi Gras beads. They're available for sale at check-in.
Billed as "the park dogs ask for by name," Bark Park is two sprawling acres of fun for you and your pooch. There are shade trees for owners to relax under and perhaps read the Sunday paper while keeping a lazy eye on their furry friends. And there's an exercise course so that if Spike doesn't want to play with the other Chihuahuas, he can soar over little fences and pretend he's a horse for the day. Importantly, the acreage is split into two fenced areas: a large space for big dogs which need to run far and wide, and a smaller area for those diminutive guys that might get trampled or attacked while trying to romp with the heftier breeds. Everyday East Lake at Snyder is open for dog swimming, and Labrador retrievers are the unofficial stars of the show. While some dogs only splash around the lake's edge, those yellow, chocolate, and black labs plunge into deep water, pounce on tennis balls, and proudly carry their prizes back to the humans waiting on the sandy banks. And they all know: Life off the leash is good.
December 16, 2007. Overtime. It's third down and eight, and Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon is lined up in the shotgun with four receivers stretched wide. Little-known third-year player Greg Camarillo goes into motion, crossing left in front of Lemon. The ball is snapped — Camarillo shoots forward off the line and drops an almost imperceptible stutter with his left foot that freezes Baltimore cornerback Jamaine Winborne just long enough for Camarillo to turn up the field into a short post route. He has two yards on Winborne, nothing more, but it's a sufficient window for Lemon to squeeze a dart right into Camarillo's waiting hands, perfectly in stride. In a moment, Camarillo — the undrafted nobody from Stanford, who never caught a touchdown pass in college or the pros — is gone, zinging down the field 64 yards and giving the Dolphins their first and only win of the 2007 NFL season. It was a gorgeous play, and no one, not even the vaunted Baltimore defense, saw it coming. Long after the Dolphin's horrid '07 season is just a ruddy splotch in the annals of pro football history, fans will look back at that game and remember Camarillo's brilliant performance.
When the FAU Owls earned their first-ever conference championship and bowl game appearance in the 2007 season, sports pundits praised coach Howard Schnellenberger for his return to form and flawless bowl record. Respect to "Old Schneller" is definitely due (see Best Couch), if for nothing other than his hand in developing sophomore quarterback Rusty Smith. In just his first whole season, Smith's stats were godly: 3,688 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions, posting a near-perfect quarterback rating of 141.6. In the New Orleans bowl, Smith absolutely manhandled Memphis, picking apart their beleaguered secondary for 336 yards and five touchdowns. Yes, his stats are impressive, but what makes Smith scary is his poise in the pocket and his game intelligence. He learns fast and seems to improve from mistakes almost immediately. Considering Smith is only a sophomore and has at least two more years of college ball left to continue to develop, he could be bound for a few more bowl wins with FAU — and someday the NFL.
He downed Ray Mercer in one minute, 10 seconds. Bo Cantrell fell in 18 ticks. He skewered Tank Abbott in just three quarters of a minute, and that was with the ref stopping the fight twice. Yep, Perrine's own Kimbo Slice is a fighter like no other; a brutish, hulking Neanderthal with a preternatural aptitude for beating ass and scaring the bejesus out of folks with his trademark bald pate and hobo-style beard. Whether it's in the ring for his heretofore-short professional career or in the street where he brutalized suckers for cash, Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) transforms into a machine of war once he lifts those giant pendulums he calls fists. He's grown a loyal and equally rabid following that pines for Slice's furious flailing like crackheads jonesing for a fix. Slice needs to battle some tougher opponents before he ascends to the upper echelon of cage fighting, but we'll certainly enjoy seeing him continue to pulp faces on his way up.