Extreme Sports Abound in the Buckeye State
By Meg Berno

Extreme Sports Abound in the Buckeye State


Every now and then, you need to do something just a little different. You need to feel a little excitement…the rush of adrenaline!

Thanks to a growing crop of alternative sports venues, that dream getaway has never been closer. Once resigned to just “beer league” softball or touch football, now you can try your hand at indoor rock climbing, role-playing paintball, and upscale bowling. The bravest of the bunch can graduate to aerial ski jumping, BMX riding, and flat-track roller derby – all without ever leaving Ohio!

Friendly Fire

Fried from another tension-filled week? Many weekend-warriors choose to relieve their stress on a shooting spree – at a paintball park. And they are not alone: According to the American Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, some 12 million friendly snipers engaged in simulated war games last year. Thanks to its premier grounds, Splatter Park hosted many of them. Featured in Xbox 360’s Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball, Splatter Park’s numerous venues simulate historic battlefields and aviation crash sites. 

Sports_paintball2_350 Boeasting nine different courses spread across 210 acres, Niederman Family Farm is one of the most popular paintball sites in Ohio. Open year round, the sprawling farm includes forest, marsh and wide open spaces. Participate in capture the flag, team elimination, or enjoy live and stationary target price. Extensive equipment rentals are available.

Set on a decommissioned gunpowder  production facility from the 1800s, Battlefront Paintball features a very apropos World War II-inspired setting. The extensive playing fields are littered with bunkers, bombed out buildings, and airplane crash sites. Equipment rentals and gas fill-ups are available on-site.

(NOTE: When you do this, and you know you want to, you have got to share the photos!

Climbing the Walls

Sports_rockclimb_300 Many athletic types have made their “first ascent” indoors at rock gyms. With a staggering 20,000 square feet of climbing surface and a towering 45-foot vertical, RockQuest Climbing Center might be the mother of all Ohio indoor climbing facilities. Friendly to climbers of all skill levels, RockQuest offers introductory courses, private lessons, and open climbing. A well-stocked pro shop offers everything a rock hopper might need to get started.

Urban Krag likely is the most unique indoor climbing site in the state, if not the world. Located in Dayton’s Historic Oregon District, the rock gym is set within a 150-year-old church that had long been neglected. Some 8,000 feet of climbing walls commingle with stained-glass windows, cathedral ceilings and a soaring bell tower.

To the north, in Peninsula, Kendall Cliffs offers a warehouse-style set-up similar to RockQuest, with 7,000 square feet climbing to heights of 35 feet. Learn the ropes from seasoned pros or practice grips solo in the brawny bouldering area. Buy a day pass here on Mondays and your gear is free.

Hell on Wheels

Recently the subject of the A&E documentary series, Rollergirls, roller derby is fast becoming a hot “retro” pastime. New all-female leagues are popping up across the state, swapping modest rec centers for more fan-friendly digs. Combining speed skating skill and bruising hockey-style contact, Ohio’s amateur flat-track roller derbies are providing kitschy, cross-checking fun.

Sports_RollerjasonBechtel_350 Toledo’s Glass City Rollers leads the charge as northwest Ohio’s premier flat track roller derby team. Fans come from as far away as Indianapolis, Detroit and Windsor, Ontario to catch the team’s punishing bouts.

Cleveland’s Burning River Roller Girls is more of a self-contained league of its own. Local skaters are broken up into various teams that do themed battle against each other. Roller derby purists looking for a more vintage experience should take in Dayton’s flat track team, the Gem City Roller Girls. The Gems keep things a little more homespun, offering post-bout skate-and-socials and regular tryouts for aspiring derby girls.

Gravity Games

So your group includes a healthy mix of skateboarders, rollerbladers and BMX riders. Keeping them all content is a breeze at Flow Skatepark, which boasts 50,000 square feet of ramps, tracks and half-pipes. One of the largest indoor parks in the nation, the all-wooden adventure zone was crowned “#1 Skatepark in the U.S.” by Ride BMX magazine.

Sports_bike_350 If your group’s tastes lean more towards the extreme, but its collective experience level doesn’t, Ohio Dreams Action Sports Camp can help. This action-sports camp caters to the youthful set by providing instruction in a full suite of ESPN-designed X-games. Classes cover inline skating, skateboarding and BMX trick riding. A water ramp and pool allow skiers to safely practice treacherous aerial jumps.

The (Not So) Dreaded 7-10 Split

Bowling alleys have come a long way since the days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Sparked by the cult classic film, The Big  Lebowski, hipster bowling is experiencing a nationwide revival that places rental shoes squarely in the leisure-time spotlight. If Laverne and Shirley were still rolling on league night, they’d dig the scene at J.D. Legends. The upscale entertainment complex near Dayton features state of the art bowling, live concerts, sand volleyball and gourmet food and drink.

Laverne and Shirley’s pal Carmine likely would prefer Hilliard’s Ten Pin Alley and Spikes, which marries open and league bowling with upscale pub grub, sand volleyball, and fierce but friendly corn hole competitions. In Cleveland, cool pinsters head to the stately Corner Alley , located in the bustling E. Fourth Street entertainment district. Boasting computerized scoring, above-lane video screens, and ice-cold martinis delivered while you bowl, this alley jumps like no other.

 So, how do you define “extreme sports” and where do you go here in Ohio when you need that extra special getaway?

About the Author

Meg Berno is a freelance writer and Marketing Coordinator with the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Meg graduated from Miami University with a degree in Strategic Communications. Outside of work, Meg enjoys photography, writing and finding new places to explore in Ohio.