North Carolina sports has been a leader in supplying facilities and services that do not require a ball
From baseball and softball to soccer and virtually every sport that involves a ball, North Carolina has the venue and expertise to provide an outstanding experience and a successful event. Many sports that don’t require a ball also enjoy their own exceptional venues and memorable events in North Carolina. Here are some of those sports:.
With a geographic footprint that goes from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast, there are an abundance of watersport competitive options. Nantahala Outdoor Center’s main campus is one of the oldest active paddle sports event sites. The host for the 2013 International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championships, the site annually welcomes the nation’s oldest whitewater slalom race along with numerous other competitive events.
Lake Norman has a well-deserved reputation for hosting professional fishing tournaments out of Blythe Landing. Not to be overlooked is its reputation for hosting premier dragon boat races. The annual Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Race out of Ramsey Creek regularly attracts more than 5,000 attendees. A favorite stop for the Governor’s Cup Regatta, Jordan Lake is also ideal for professional fishing tournaments.
Journeying to the coastal side of the state, Wilmington and Beaches is surrounded by water, including the ocean, a river, inlets and marshes and the Intracoastal Waterway. Each lends itself to numerous watersports. Competitive surfing events are a fixture along with windsurfing, kite surfing and wakeboarding. Sailing, kayaking and rowing events find a home on the ocean, river or waterway. There’s plenty of fishing available, including saltwater and fresh water. Swimming events find a home in the ocean and sound while indoor swimming competitions are held at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Seahawk Natatorium and the local YMCA and YWCA.
As competitive disc golf competition grows and the athletes become more skilled, top facilities are opening across North Carolina. Diavolo at New Hope Disc Golf is located in the Town of Cary and part of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. Opened in 2020, it has been ranked No. 7 on UDisc’s list of The World’s Best Disc Golf Courses 2021. Earlier in 2021, Diavolo hosted the BODYARMOR State Games Disc Golf Championship and the 7th Annual Airborne @ Diavolo PDGA Tournament.
Wilkesboro and Wilkes County are home to three top courses offering a variety of challenges for the novice or pro disc golfer. Fort Hamby at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir offers beautiful lakefront disc golf and a variety of challenging terrain. North Wilkesboro’s Highland Hills is a woodland course with hills and hollers to provide a unique and fun playing experience. The crown jewel of Wilkesboro’s disc golf scene is Rolling Pines, the 2nd ranked course in North Carolina on Udisc. The layout is a beautifully manicured course trademarked by its tall pines.
Visit Lake Norman has also enjoyed the growing popularity of disc golf. Three area courses at Bradford Park, Robbins Park and Bailey Road Park have been used for PDGA World Championship events. Just off I-95 in Johnston County, disc golf courses can be found hosting events at East Clayton Community Park and Smithfield Community Park.
Fayetteville has more than 10 disc golf courses with Fowland Counter-Culture Outlet, Reservoir Park and Harris Lake County Park each receiving a 5/5 rating. Greenville-Pitt County is home to five regulation 18-hole courses, each having hosted local and regional tournaments with a history of hosting A-tier PDGA Tournaments. Gaston County adds disc golf locations and two Ultimate Frisbee courses to the state’s menu of offerings.
BIKING & RUNNING
Wilkesboro boasts more than 50 miles of EPIC-rated single-track mountain biking trails. Forty miles of those thrilling trails are found at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir. Annually, the Warrior Creek Trail hosts the Six Hours at Warrior Creek event, which attracts enthusiasts from around the country. Cub Creek Park in downtown Wilkesboro features more than 10 miles of exciting rides with wooden berms, water and a swinging cantilever bridge. The track is perfect for timing laps and sprint runs.
Fat Tire and IRONMAN races find the Wilmington Beaches and surrounding area very suitable. The NC Ironman 70.3 begins with a swim in the channel at Wrightsville Beach, cycling the countryside and a run through Wilmington ending in the Historic River District. Wilmington also has a designated bicycle route that is suitable for competition, the Gary Shell Cross City Trail. Additional bicycle routes are the Island Greenway in Carolina Beach and the Mountain Bike Trail at Blue Clay Bike Park in Castle Hayne. Chatham County is no stranger to cycling and running competition. The abundance of natural terrain is perfect for an IRONMAN 70.3 event and the Tobacco Road Marathon, a Boston Marathon qualifier. Communities are also an important element in Cycle NC.
Fayetteville’s 8th Annual All-American Marathon was held virtually in 2021, but plans are underway for the late spring event in 2022. Spartan Races can be found in Fayetteville, Concord and Asheville.
Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area just might be the best fit for rock climbing. Throughout the park there are approximately 60 established rock-climbing routes suitable for the beginner and advanced climber. Get a taste of running competition on Rocky Face Mountain at the 8th Annual Vertical Mile Challenge in June 2022 and the 3rd Annual Vertical Night Challenge in early October 2022.
SHOOTING, AX THROWING & HORSESHOES
Fort Bragg’s Clay Target Center is located in Spring Lake and has hosted numerous specialty tournaments. Open to both civilians and military the center has welcomed the US Open Skeet Championship and the Armed Forces Skeet Championship.
Duncan Gun Shop and Range in North Wilkesboro maintains an indoor and outdoor shooting range and hosts numerous competitions throughout the year. Horseshoes is well worth the mention with more than two-dozen side-byside pits at Lowe’s Park at River Edge, Wilkesboro.
In Gaston County, there are two ax throwing venues that host competitive events. Valhalla Ax Throwing Company in Belmont and Ole Dallas Brewery in Dallas welcome competitors.
CHEER, DANCE, GYMNASTICS & MORE
ESports competitive events have exploded in North Carolina. Just about every destination with a convention center is hosting events. For more on eSports in the Tarheel State, visit the North Carolina Guide in the 2021 Sports Planning Guide, featuring the story “North Carolina is a Leader in ESports Competitions.”
The Crown Complex in Fayetteville is a four-building campus that has hosted ice hockey, roller derby, wrestling, boxing, cheerleading and dance competitions. Christian Cheer Nationals and All-American Dream Gymnastics Invitational are just a few national competitions that found a home in Fayetteville.
Wilmington Convention Center has hosted curling events, wrestling and cheerleading. In addition to the convention Center, CFCC Schwartz and the University of North Carolina Wilmington are capable of hosting every imaginable sport. While the Wheeler Center in Belmont has hosted cheer and dance and tumbling, wrestling and eSports.
We’ve just begun to reflect on the competitive options for sports without a ball. For more information check all of North Carolina’s world-class facilities at sportsnc.org.
By David Bodle