Sports & Recreation - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Best sport you've probably never heard of
Orlando Hurling Club
First word we received about this Gaelic jumble of a sport was when Orlando Hurling Club hosted their Clash of the Ash tournament last September. Dubbed "the fastest game played on a grass field," according to Orlando Hurling Club's Scott Graves, hurling is an Irish game that combines the athleticism of lacrosse, baseball and hockey, if you can imagine that mashup. In play since 2010, Orlando Hurling Club is the largest organized hurling team in Florida. The club holds open practices and public tournaments on a regular basis, and it's always recruiting new players to the team. You may not know what hurling is – and it kind of defies explanation – but check out their site and find out for yourself why it's catching on here in Orlando.
Best surfing variant
Almost any weekend you see them on Cocoa Beach: folks rigged out in an unholy alliance of snowboard, surfboard and parachute. Whether you call it kiteboarding, kitesurfing or parasurfing, it's the fastest (non-motorized) sport on the water. Rig a parachute harness around your torso, snap your feet into the board bindings, and take off as fast as the wind will take you – just don't expect to stay on the surface of the water. Once the wind fills that chute, serious air will be caught. (Spectators should vacate the sand when it's time to come in for a landing or risk a "kite"-smash to the head.)
Best came-out-of-nowhere team
Orlando City Soccer Club
They came seemingly from out of nowhere, and they've totally blown us away. In their inaugural season, the Orlando City Soccer Club won the United Soccer League Pro championship at the Florida Citrus Bowl and hosted the largest crowd ever recorded in a single United Soccer League game. Then at their preseason supporters' summit in January, a loud-and-proud fan base packed Mojo Cajun Bar & Grill to kick off the team's second season and garner support for a bid at being named a Major League Soccer team. Returning this year with 80 percent of their original roster, the club didn't suffer a loss until nearly six weeks into their sophomore season. We'd go on, but really, these guys and their explosive success speaks for itself.
Best team in boots
Orlando Rugby Club
When you're talking about contact sports, rugby is the United Kingdom's full-fledged version of American football – sans the wimpy shoulder pads and helmets. Since 1970, Orlando Rugby Club's maintained a prominent showing in the Florida Rugby Union, most recently with last season's 19-1 finish and national championship playoff run (albeit short-lived). Players of all ages and levels are encouraged to try out, but unless you're up for the "rucks," "mauls" and "scrums" associated with these battles, we'd suggest you sit this one out.