Sports & Recreation
2017 Readers Poll
2017 Critics Picks

photo by Shelley Hiam

Best Bruisers, Grapplers, and High Fliers

Roll up, roll up, see all the fun of the squared circle with WrestleCircus, the no-holds-barred wrestling promotion that has crowds cheering and international grappling stars beating on the canvas to get in. See! The smashiest, bashiest brawlers! Gaze in wonder! When aerial experts fly from the top ropes with the greatest of ease! Gasp! As strong men and women make the whole ring shake with their skill and fury! In less than a year, owners Al and Lexi Lenhart have become champions of indie wrestling, and no one is counting them out yet.


Best Metal Mettle

Bart Butler, black-belted drummer for the excellent metal band Eagle Claw, considers regular gym workouts boring and believes that exercise should challenge your brain. Last year he took over the Void – a kung fu compound he’d been training at for a dozen years – and expanded its disciplines to include jiujitsu, kickboxing, yoga, and self-defense. Butler’s understanding that martial arts training helps counter the inherent unhealthiness of the musician/bar-worker lifestyle bears out in the studio's popularity in Austin’s rock community. Members of the Sword, American Sharks, Riverboat Gamblers, Scorpion Child, and Duel all train there.

The Void Martial Arts
4327 S. First Ste. 104-D

photo by David Brendan Hall

Most Namas-whaaaa??

They didn’t invent goat yoga – it started in Oregon (nope, not Brooklyn!) – but GOGA Goat Yoga debuted the concept in Central Texas this fall, partnering with 2 Crazy Goat Ladies of Hamilton, Texas, to enliven Beginners Vinyasa with baby Nigerian Pygmy Dwarf goats that play one-part motivational coach, one-part cuddle buddy. The pop-up classes, currently held on top of a Downtown parking garage while they look for a more permanent site, fill up fast, and no wonder: Normally there’s not a lot of kidding around when it comes to yoga, but with baby goats nibbling your toes while you’re trying to hold a pose, it’s inevitable. And adorable.

GOGA Goat Yoga
1100 S. Lamar

Best Soccer Team

Pflugerville's Hendrickson Hawks won the 6A high school state championship in May – the first state title ever for their school in any sport. And while six of the eight seniors on last season’s roster graduated to college programs, the cupboard is hardly bare. The Hawks return eight all-district picks, including Centex player of the year Bryana Hunter, and state tournament MVP, freshman goalie Makenna Garcia. They outscored district opponents 49-2 in 2017. This year’s motto? “Back to work for 2018.”

Courtesy of Rennie Rebe

Best Long-Time-Coming National Champs

For those unfamiliar, the Austin Huns are a men's Division 1 rugby squad. In their 45-year existence, they had yet to win a national championship – that is, until this year, when they defeated the five-time champion New York Athletic Club to become the first Texas team to win the title this century, and only the second Texas team in USA Rugby history.

Best Nature-Lovin’ Conservation Warrior

Chances are you can find Madeline Enos riding around on her bike or wearing a T-shirt promoting her love for the environment. As a part of EPIC (Emerging Professionals in Conservation), she’s volunteered countless hours to help fundraise and educate others on conserving the beautiful Texas Hill Country. As a Texas Conservation Corps alumna, Enos shows her drive and passion for the outdoors through supporting the Hill Country Conservancy, visiting historical ranches and finding the best swimming holes of Central Texas.

photo by Erik Binggeser

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Hidden Entry to the Violet Crown Trail

The balance of Austin’s urban life and love of nature is delicate – we’re a city of Downtown dwellers by day and trail hikers by the weekend. The 30-mile Violet Crown Trail sneaks its way across town, hidden in plain sight. You’d miss it if you didn’t know what to look for, but just off of 290 is a partially hidden trailhead to the VCT. The zipping of cars and occasional honking of a disgruntled driver may disrupt the serenity of the entrance, but once you’re on the trail all thoughts of rush hour are gone.

Violet Crown 290 Trailhead
4934 Highway 290 W.
Sunset Valley

Best Secret Bowling Alley

Behind the Scholz Garten patio, up the ramp, and behind a nondescript door lives one of the oldest bowling centers in the country. With six lanes and handwritten scorecards – plus antique bowling shoes to borrow if you don’t want to roll in socks – this is a no-frills vintage venue ideal for (beer) league bowling.

Saengerrunde Hall
1607 San Jacinto

photo by John Anderson

photo by Jack Sanders

Best Field of Dreams

Nestled 12 miles east of Austin on architect Jack Sanders’ 5-acre workshop, the Long Time is somewhat of a time machine. The unlikely baseball field and home to the Texas Playboys is ground zero for the revival of sandlot baseball – informal, DIY adult teams from towns across the south reveling in the nostalgia of pickup ball. Games can draw over a hundred fans, less concerned with the action on the diamond than the family- and dog-friendly community of afternoon cookouts and live music, with baseball as the backdrop.

The Long Time
5707 N. Dunlap Rd.

Most "Accio Awesome" Cupholder

Though Austin boasts many Quidditch teams, Texas Cavalry rose as the city's pride and joy when it won the U.S. Quidditch Cup 10 this past April. While you don't necessarily need to know anything about this Harry Potter-inspired sport – just imagine a mixture of rugby and basketball, with broomsticks – to appreciate a Texas win, it may help to know that the Cavalry bested 60 teams from all over the country. This year, they'll be able to defend their title closer to home when the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex hosts US Quidditch Cup 11.

Texas Cavalry

photo by Isabella Gong

photo courtesy Longhorn Sports

Best Prospect

After a down season, UT basketball coach Shaka Smart has been assembling the talent to bring the program back to prominence, and superstar recruit Mo Bamba is the most prized addition to the 2017-18 Longhorns squad. Fingers are crossed for a stellar season, since hoops prognosticators are already betting the 7-foot power forward from Harlem will go pro next year.

Mohamed Bamba

Best Stairway to Heaveny Breathing

We’d like to think we’re above a good rock pun, but it’s hard to resist when the setup is this solid. Although a classic rock song can also get your blood pumping, there isn’t anything quite like climbing rocky stairs at the River Place Nature Trail. The 1,040-foot elevation gain is shaded by trees for most of the 5.5-mile hike, but that doesn’t make the trail any less challenging. Your calf muscles are sure to be in tip-top shape after a few hikes here, especially if you’re daring enough to run on the trails.

River Place Nature Trail
8820 Big View Dr.

photo by David Brendan Hall

photo by John Anderson

Best Field Renovation

Students spend more than 260,000 hours participating in intramural sports each year, so it wasn’t any surprise that after 30 years the University of Texas intramural fields needed a facelift. Although the construction took longer than expected, the newly renovated fields opened earlier this year and are – once again – home to all the outdoor IM and sports clubs like UT’s famed Quidditch and archery teams.

Charles Alan Wright Fields

Critics: Shopping
2017 Intro

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