Like many of you, the month of March brought out the madness in me. It has ever since I was a little wildcat cub back in Tucson, dreaming of playing college hoops. By the time I enrolled at the University of Arizona and officially became a Wildcat, the work ethic and athleticism required for play was far beyond my capabilities. (Or maybe not, but like most college boys I had discovered a girl, so it was certainly out of my commitment range.) So like every good parent before me, my hopes and dreams have been foisted upon my children. Now I work to inspire them to the greatness I was too lazy to achieve: College sports.
First step? Head downtown to The White River State Park’s NCAA Hall of Champions, where the interactive exhibits give you an accurate understanding of what it takes to be a student-athlete. Gotta set expectations early.
The HOC is two stories of sporting glory. The first floor arena starts with a mascot mash-up. Kids can combine the head of Bucky the Badger with the body of Alabama’s big Al to create their own super mascot. Turn the corner and you’ll see ALL 24 NCAA sports on display, that means fencing!
This is crucial for a dad of four, whose kids can never agree on which game or sport to play. You’ll be glad to know that the genders are equally represented as well, it’s not all-football-all-the-time. However, having a game-worn jersey and helmet from the college football championship game is a plus. Video highlights, trivia, and current rankings allow all the kids enough information to pick a new favorite sport to disagree with their siblings about.
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Here is one thing they can all agree on: Upstairs is the place to be. The second level is packed with interactive exhibits that give everyone a hands on way to experience the sports we love. In the retro b-ball gym you can play 1-on-1 or use the labeled floor to attempt some of the same shots as the hardwood heroes of the past. Our family’s favorite exhibit was an easy choice. I’ll admit that I’m not the world’s greatest women’s tennis fan, but after listening to my kids squeal in a mix of fear and joy at a 75MPH serve careening toward their faces I will definitely be more respectful of the terrifying sounds coming out of Maria Sharapova.
In addition to learning about the sports, the museum has an activity that’s meant to help users understand what student athlete life is really like. The amount of time required and responsibilities they have between homework, practices, classes, games, and travel makes my schedule of class, friends and girls look easy.
So I hope you go and enjoy the museum with your kids. You can help them learn about all the different sporting options and what it really takes to be a student athlete. If they make it to college, maybe they’ll hold a trophy atop a podium one day. Just remember, don’t be too upset if your son decides to spend his college years to focus on a girl instead of athletics. It worked out ok for me! (See honey? I said you were BETTER than a trophy wife!) Who’s the champion now!?
What to Know Before You Go
Location: 700 W Washington Street, Downtown Indy
Admission: Adults, 18-59: $5.00; Youth, 6-18: $3.00; Seniors, 60+: $3.00; Children, 5 and under: Free
Summer Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday: Noon – 5 pm; Monday: Closed (Open Memorial Day)
At that point – as he says: “I realized: I need a wife. I married Katie in Sept of 2007. Aside from one lousy pen left in my pants pocket and numerous dried on Conner Prairie stickers, the laundry has gone pretty well since then.” Luis has four children: Maggie- 7, Micah- 5, Millie- 2, and Merritt- 1. Each of them helps him sharpen his parenting skills in new and unique ways. “Without Maggie I’d never have learned to put on tights. Without Micah I would have the weakest MMA fighting skills on the block. Millie challenges me to improve my search and rescue abilities. Merritt gives me weekly lessons in Matrix style urine dodging. Together we are the greatest family to ever ruin your family’s nice quiet afternoon at the park.”
Follow along with Luis as he helps shows you the best places to let your family run wild.