Sports of All Sorts   - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Sports of All Sorts  

Sports of All Sorts  

It is no secret that Greater Tampa Bay offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities and amenities to facilitate an active lifestyle. With idyllic waterways perfect for paddleboarding or thrilling watersports like cable wakeboarding, and many scenic trails for hiking, getting outside and using the body is naturally encouraged here.  

GTB has evolved into a sports tourism destination, with several state-of-the-art complexes and championship sports centers. Pasco County, a rising destination for sporting events, has even adopted the nickname the Sports Coast.  

Besides being known for its football, baseball and hockey, GTB is also known for its pickleball. In a 2021 survey from Statista, St. Petersburg and Tampa were in the top 20 cities with the most pickleball courts. With well over 30 outdoor and indoor courts, and more on the way, GTB is the place to play come rain or shine. 

For the community at large, there is a wide variety of organized leagues for youth sports, as well as active adults looking for entertainment and exercise. Kickball and flag football teams are no longer just for kids –– adults can join the fun, too. Whether a lifelong athlete or a beginner interested in trying something new, there are more options than ever to stay fit and socialize.  

Top-Tier Complexes 

Young athletes have plenty of venues to develop their skills with the numerous, massive and impressive sports complexes throughout GTB. In fact, 32 players from local high schools even appeared on NFL rosters.  

A notable attraction is the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus in Wesley Chapel, a nearly 100,000-square-foot indoor facility which houses more than a dozen volleyball and pickleball courts, a competition cheer studio, wrestling and martial arts mats, 56 fencing strips, indoor soccer and lacrosse surfaces and more. A popular tournament venue, there is even a Marriott Hotel on premises to round out the hospitality for athletes and their families. 

The Tournament Sportsplex of Tampa Bay brings top athletes to Tampa for tournaments and championships. The manicured facility includes 10 multipurpose fields, four quad fields and one championship field. The fields are exceptionally high quality, with drainage systems, celebration bermudagrass and seating for around 300. Onsite amenities include locker rooms and all the equipment needed for several different sports. Proximity to the Brandon-area hotels, dining and entertainment make it an excellent venue for traveling teams. 

Between the St. Pete-based Tampa Bay Rays and the several Minor League Baseball and spring training facilities in the area, Pinellas County loves America’s pass time. A unique part of the baseball community is Baseball City, formerly a Major League Baseball Spring Training complex. Now, players enjoy the amenities once used by the Tampa Bay Rays: five MLB regulation-sized fields, batting practice equipment and cages, a 15,000-square-foot indoor batting facility, 4,000-square-foot weight room and training area, club house and scouting tower. 

Adaptive Sports  

Hillsborough County Adaptive Sports provides programs for people with disabilities. Recreational and competitive sports for youth ages 7-22 include cycling, golf, football, basketball, softball, hockey, sit volleyball, archery, track and field and swimming.  

See Also

The Tampa Bay Strong Dogs has been a competitive part of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association for more than 20 years. Adults with permanent physical disabilities travel and compete in regional and national tournaments.  

Hillsborough County Buccaneers is one of nine national teams that compete in the USA Wheelchair Football League, a nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion of parasports amount people with physical disabilities.  

The Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources offers the community-based Pasco Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation. The group has adaptive sports for both adults and children, ranging from tennis to basketball to archery. They also installed mobi-mats at Green Key Beach and Anclote River Park.  

Celebrity Local Sports Connections 

  • Track star Erriyon Knighton competed in the Tokyo Summer Olympics while a senior at Hillsborough High School. His bronze medal at the 2022 World Athletics Championships made him the youngest athlete to win a world medal in an individual sprint event. 
  • Terry Eugene Bollea, better known as the iconic Hulk Hogan, played baseball at West Tampa Little League & Robinson High School before an arm injury ended his MLB aspirations and led him to discover wrestling.  
  • Actor Channing Tatum was voted most athletic at Tampa Catholic High School, where he played football and ran track.  
  • Tony La Russa, one of the winningest managers in MLB history, played baseball for Jefferson High School and upon graduation signed with the Kansas City Athletics.  
  • Actress Angela Bassett was a cheerleader at Boca Ciega High School. 
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame Member Wade Boggs played for the Palma Ceia Little League, Senior League and Plant High School baseball teams.  
  • Heading to Cooperstown in 2023 is Tampa native and former Jefferson High School first baseman Fred McGriff, who had two stints with the hometown Rays. 

By Jennifer Kennedy.

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