Indiana’s reverence for the game of basketball is nonpareil. While Indiana’s hoops fandom is devout, it is hardly the only game in town. The state’s residents enthusiastically embrace a wide variety of sports, from Indianapolis, the state capital that has earned the reputation “Racing Capital of the World,” to Fort Wayne, a city that heavily promotes adaptive sports.
Here are some unique sports throughout the state that captivate patrons of all ages.
The seventh-largest city in Indiana, 51 miles southwest of Indianapolis, Bloomington is known as the “Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana.” Bloomington is home to Indiana University, which in November hosts the USA Water Polo Champions Cup, a three-day national championship event for athletes 14 and under. The event will feature the top boys and girls under-14 water polo teams in the country competing at the University of Indiana Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center, a 44,651-square-foot facility that is home to both the IU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.
Located 46 miles southeast of Indianapolis, Columbus has an acclaimed art scene, and is known for its modern architecture and public art. Columbus is also home to Columbus BMX, a track that holds BMX racing events that range from 2-year-old competitors to expert racers. Entering 2018, Columbus BMX has held competitive racing events for 15 years, with some competitions featuring 250 riders and more than 700 spectators. Columbus also offers another form of racing, as the Whittington Family Raceway at Ceraland Park features a go-kart track that is open to drivers young and old.
From May 3-6, 2018, the Professional Disc Golf Association will arrive in Crown Point, 47 miles southeast of Chicago, for the PDGA Tim Selinske U.S. Masters Disc Golf Championship. An expected 300 competitors will compete at The Lemon Lake Disc Golf Complex, host site of the PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships in 2010 and 2013.
Evansville residents and out-of-towners hit the water over Labor Day weekend for HydroFest, a gala where dozens of hydroplane boats race across the Ohio River. Evansville is the third-largest city in the state, resides 143 miles from Louisville and has a bustling riverfront. Hydroplanes reach speeds of up to 170 miles per hour, striving for the championship of the American Power Boat Association. HydroFest is more than just a boat race, though, as the weekend also provides a myriad of entertainment from live music to an abundance of food options.
The second-largest city in Indiana, located 124 miles northeast of Indianapolis, is a leader in adaptive sports, which are competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities. The Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities, an adaptive sports forerunner, has been named one of the 10 Best Adaptive Sports Facilities in America. Turnstone is home to the U.S. Men’s Paralympic Goalball Team, and is a proud host of the Endeavor Games series, a popular event for disabled athletes that has grown from 91 athletes in its first year (2000) to 310 athletes from 38 states and Puerto Rico. Turnstone continues to make its presence felt in the adaptive sports market as it was named the home for the 2018 Adaptive Sports Junior Nationals, a weeklong national sport championship event for young athletes with a physical disability and/or visual impairment. Fort Wayne is also home to the Fort Wayne Curling Club, an organization that was established to help those interested to learn, participate and compete in the sport of curling. Participants travel from as far away as San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to compete in tournaments at the club.
Some of the nation’s top gymnasts will descend upon Hammond’s Jean Shepherd Community Center in February of 2018 for the Midwest Games Gymnastics Invitational. The event will feature up to 400 athletes competing for top honors. Hammond, located 27 miles south of Chicago, is also constructing an $18 million sportsplex, with a targeted opening date of 2018. The 150,000-square-foot complex will feature six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, two regulation-size indoor soccer fields and six batting cages. It is expected to host such sports as badminton, archery, pickleball, indoor rugby, fencing, cheer and dance competitions, indoor whiffle ball, martial arts and wrestling.
Highland, 31 miles south of Chicago, plays host to multiple championships. In late October of 2017, Highland hosts the 14th annual South Shore Table Tennis Championships at the Lincoln Center. More than 200 participants will compete in the event sanctioned by USA Table Tennis. In March of 2018, more than 600 athletes will participate in the USA Gymnastics Optional State Meet at the Lincoln Center. The same month, Plaza Lanes will host the NAIA Bowlerstore.com Invitational Team Championships, featuring 40 top men’s and women’s teams.
The Great Lakes Grand Prix annually descends upon Michigan City, skirting the shores of Lake Michigan. The Grand Prix, which recently completed its ninth year in Michigan City, is a three-day event that falls the first weekend of August on Lake Michigan and Washington Park Beach. The event is part of the Super Boat International offshore powerboat racing schedule and features many of the world’s fastest and most powerful offshore power boats racing at speeds nearing 150 miles per hour. Michigan City is host to one of eight annual offshore powerboat races sanctioned by SBI, one of the few races that take place outside of Florida. Race weekend is accompanied by The Taste of Michigan City food festival and the popular Great Lakes Grand Prix boat parade and block party, featuring live entertainment and food vendors. The 2017 event attracted more than 140,000 people. Another popular attraction in Michigan City is the Extreme Volleyball Professionals’ annual Great Lakes Championship, which takes place at Washington Park Beach. This pro-am tournament draws teams from around the nation, providing spectators the chance to watch elite athletes competing on the sand.
The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, which resides 76 miles southwest of Indianapolis, is one of the few cross-country courses in the world specifically designed for the sole purpose of cross-country running. The course was dedicated in 1997 and since then, has hosted multiple championship meets, including the NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003, and the Division II Regional in 2009 and 2012. The course has also been the site of 12 NCAA Division I Cross-Country championships and six Nike Championships.
Situated 30 miles north of Indianapolis, Westfield has played host to an abundance of sporting events. Grand Park is a Mecca for baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer events, but also hosts a wide variety of specialized competitions. The USA Archery National Target championships, the U.S. Open of archery and Junior Olympic Archery Development tournaments, and the most recent National Target Championships in August of 2017 saw nearly 1,200 archers compete in the largest championships in USA Archery history. Grand Park is also host to the U.S. Lacrosse National Championships and The Grail, NXT Lacrosse’s Midwest tournament that features more than 100 boys and girls teams. Another sport that features prominently in Grand Park is power soccer, the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse hosted the United States Power Soccer Association’s MK Battery Conference Cup in June and will do so again in 2018.