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A League Of Your Own

By Johanna Cano, posted Mar 1, 2019
Axes & Allies hosts Tournament Tuesdays where players, like Matt Barnett (pictured above), throw axes at wooden targets. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
With March Madness just around the corner, basketball will be in many people’s minds.
 
While we might not all make it as professional or college basketball players, Wilmington-area residents are showing off their skills on fields, rinks and even bars just in time for the beginning of spring leagues.
 
Here are some to check out.
 

FLYING AXES

AXES & ALLIES, an ax-throwing bar that opened at 1122 S. Third St., is a member of the World Axe Throwing League (WATL). The facility, which opened last summer, includes four throwing lanes with two targets in each lane where each participant can hurl hatches at wooden bull’s-eyes.
 
The local WATL Winter League started Jan. 20 at the bar and will continue through March 10. Each participant gets at least 40 competitive throws with scores for each throw tallied and recorded. The highest scores compete on the eighth and final game to determine a league champion.
 
While ax-throwing might seem like a simple, straightforward sport, it does require skill, said Mia Troy, owner of Axes & Allies.
 
Troy decided to host ax-throwing leagues to give people the opportunity to try out a new sport.
 
“Adult sports leagues are a great way to meet people, try something new and have fun doing it,” Troy said. “Shortly after opening Axes & Allies in August, it wasn’t long before people were asking if we would be having leagues or tournaments. I think it’s an innate part of the human condition to want to compete and win.”
 

SCRUM START

The CAPE FEAR RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB has been recruiting local players wanting a more cardio-intensive contact sport since 1974.
 
The rugby club is a nonprofit that seeks to educate the community about rugby.
 
Each year CFRFC hosts the Cape Fear 7s tournament, which started in 1975. The first tournament had 16 participating teams and has grown to 70 competing teams who come to Wilmington from all over the U.S. The 45th annual tournament will be July 6-7 at Ogden Park.
 
CFRFC is having open practices for new and experienced players through March 26.
 
Women in the area have also been playing rugby with the CAPE FEAR WOMEN’S RUGBY CLUB, which started in 2013.
 
Known as Cape Fear Sea Sirens, the team welcomes women ages 18 and up with any skill and fitness level. The Sea Sirens often play alongside the Camp Lejeune Women’s Rugby team known as the Camp Lejeune Maniacs.
 

SERVING THE COMMUNITY

For many organizing members of the local Wilmington tennis leagues, the most rewarding part of playing the sport is the bond it creates between the players.
 
The GREATER WILMINGTON TENNIS ASSOCIATION is run by a board of directors and coordinators, including Anna Martin, adult coordinator, and Christine Tatum, president of the board.
 
The tennis association is a nonprofit that aims to help with development and coordination of local leagues and other tennis programs. It is affiliated with the state chapter of the U.S. Tennis Association, which incorporated with the Community Tennis Association allowing the Wilmington association to use grants to expand and continue to help the community.
 
The association holds clinics and camps for adults and kids and holds an annual Smash Cancer tournament to raise awareness on neck and head cancer with free cancer screenings and a silent auction with donations going to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.
 
There are plenty of adult league options for players interested in playing and competing in New Hanover, Columbus, Pender, Brunswick and Bladen counties.
 

ICE BREAKERS

The WILMINGTON ICE HOUSE rink has been home to youth and adult hockey teams and has hosted beginner hockey programs and open pickup hockey games.
 
Rick Thomas, owner and manager of the Ice House, purchased the rink in 2009 and has been hosting teams as well as tournaments such as Coastal Clash, which will take place March 29-31.
 
The hockey league is sanctioned by USA Hockey and is offered yearround with fall, winter and summer leagues.
 
The winter 2019 league has four divisions intended to meet different skill levels. Divisions range from teams for advanced players 18 years and older to novice players and players over 33 years of age.
 
“I believe local adult sports league are important for several reasons. They give folks a place to get exercise and stay healthy and fit. They also provide a place or events to relieve stress and forget about all of the dayto- day stress that most adults experience,” Thomas said.
 
The hockey community is a strong one and bonds and friendships are created for a lifetime, he said.
 
The hockey leagues are designed for all players, regardless of experience or age.
 
“We have guys and gals in our adult league that have just taken up the sport as well as players that played at the collegiate level as well as some guys that played professionally,” Thomas said. “Hockey is a great sport that you can play for a very long time. I am now 55 and still going – just at a little slower pace.”
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