Summer Stuff - Sports

Shock, soccer, baseball and the area's first-ever ciclovia.


Wave Riders

The synthetic surf wave inside Silver Rapids Indoor Water Park at Silver Mountain in Kellog is a perfect, continuous barrel, just like the one in Endless Summer — only surfers don’t have to travel to Africa to find it. Some serious competitors are gathering here on June 26 to shred it out and strut their stuff at Surf Idaho Pro-Am. Come, enjoy the water park, watch the competition and be entertained. Call (866) 344-2675. (BT)


Adventure Racing

Newbies to the sport of adventure racing should probably stick to the sprint-distance events, but this 24- to 34-hour combination of trekking, mountain biking and flat-water paddling near CHELAN, WASH., will be a beauty for experienced adventurers. Put on by Trioba, which guards the details of the course until game time, the race (Aug. 27-29) will dare participants to bike some 60 miles, run about 25 miles on trails (while navigating!) and paddle 25 miles, ostensibly on windy Lake Chelan. 


Race Time

Quite possibly the loudest thing happening in Eastern Washington all summer, the TRI-CITIES WATER FOLLIES (July 23-25) mark the 45th anniversary of the Columbia Cup for Unlimited Hydroplanes. Plus, there’s food, golf and a sweet air-show. (JS)


The Derby

It’s that time again. Time to drink beer and eat shave ice while watching farmers mount slow, heavy, obsolete farm vehicles and smash them to bits. Yes, it’s the 23rd running of the COMBINE DERBY in Lind, the tiny Adams County town, where the first derby, in 1988, also marked the town’s first traffic jam. It’s surprisingly good fun. Make a day of screaming for your favorite driver, looking over the shoulders of the crews and making bets on whose combine’ll get wiped out first. It runs June 11-13. (JS)


Speaking of Horsepower

It may be short on horsepower, but who’s in a hurry when you’re out playing golf? In the Sandpoint area, there’s nothing not to like about THE IDAHO CLUB, the former Hidden Lakes course turned private-and-gated development that nonetheless allows some public tee times at a little over $100/round. Another option is STONERIDGE, which isn’t exactly in Sandpoint but is still quite picturesque. (And more affordable: $32-$35/round during peak season; specials include punch passes and twilight fees at around $22-$25). Visit and (CS)


Spokane Soccer

The Spokane SPIDERS men’s team has four more home games (through July 17 at Joe Albi Stadium), and this just might be your chance to say that you saw that one defender or striker before he made it into Major League Soccer. The Spokane BLACK WIDOWS of the Women’s Premiere Soccer League — an amateur, college-eligible team filled with players from all five local universities — play their final pair of home games at Albi on July 10-11 against San Francisco and Sacramento. (MB)


Indoor Football

The SHOCK’s final regular-season home game will be on Friday, July 23, against Chicago. But since Spokane is currently ranked second among the 15 teams in the Arena Football League, we’re looking at some playoff action in August. The Shock has the highest-scoring offense in the AFL, averaging nearly 69 points per game — largely because Kyle Rowley-to-Raul Vijil is this season’s best quarterback-to-receiver pairing in arena football. (MB)


The Indians' Emcee

jamie.jpgJAMIE PATRICK is growling at me. I’ve asked the Spokane Indians’ on-field emcee to demonstrate how he makes minor-league baseball games feel “like a big-league experience,” and his voice has settled into a low rumble before he comes out with “Laaaadies and gentlemen … get on your feet and make some noise!”

It feels like I’m clutching my hot dog and scorecard right now.

Patrick — you may know him from his day job at 93.7 The Cat, Spokane’s country radio station — is headed into his third summer as the guy who introduces the Indians’ starting lineup and oversees all those cute on-field promotions between innings. He climbs atop the dugout, he races through the aisles, and over the past two seasons, he has collected memories of cute fan behavior.

“During the seventh-inning stretch,” he recalls, “we bring kids out and they sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’ Well, a couple of years ago, this one little girl — must’ve been 4 or 5 years old — did not want to leave the field. She was waiting there, giggling, just enjoying being out on the field in front of all those people. Finally I had to pick her up and carry her off.”

But promotions have their marketing purposes, and Patrick’s got his commercial endorsements down. Asked about his favorite on-field promotions, he immediately mentions “the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Resort and Circling Raven ‘Chipping Challenge,” in which fans show off their golf skills between innings. “And then there are the Eyeball Races,” he says.

Come again? “We have these big inflatable eyeballs that we put on a couple of fans’ bodies, and they race our mascot Otto all the way from second base to home.” With the giant eyeballs attached, Patrick says, the fans can “kind of see where they’re going. Kind of.”

The Indians may not win a championship every year, but their promotions department is going to work hard to create memorable spectacle — or, as Patrick puts it, “While the players are the stars of the game, the fans are the stars of the show.”

Sometimes the fans are even out on the field. “We have one on-field activity between innings,” Patrick says, “where we pick a fan, put him in left field or right field, then slingshot balls at him and see if he can catch ’em. Well, the first time we do that every season — the very first time — we may have some intern from our office who may not have experience doing the slingshot. And so it’s all, ‘Too short — I can do better.’ And then it’s too long. And we get the fan scampering all over, and we make it more dramatic by saying, ‘Back, back, back….’”

The fans are stars of the show — even if, sometimes, they look really silly. (MB)


Hoop It Up

From south of First Avenue all the way up to the Arena, from Browne Street all the way across downtown to Monroe, their sweat and shouts and blood and cheers splatter and resound all over 450 makeshift courts. Teams with self-deprecating names like “Short, Fat and Slow” clash with hyper-confident trios calling themselves things like “You Just Got Owned.” The guys in wheelchairs who cradle the basketball on top of their knees, the tiny kids who can barely heave the basketball up to the rim — all of them have their families, their friends, their sudden passer-by fans. All of them wanting just to make this next bucket, avoid this next turnover, just get through to Sunday.

There are reasons that HOOPFEST (June 26-27) is the biggest 3-on-3 tournament in the world.

It’s well organized. It has something for the most rabid players and the most casual fans. Fun and games and food in the park. And the people-watching! Girls with legs up to here, sweaty male torsos on display, grandmas in visors, court monitors impassive behind their shades, little kids cheering for Daddy.

Maybe Daddy hasn’t been in so much as a pickup game since... well, last year, but hey, nevertheless: “Go, Daddy!”

The men on Daddy’s team — just some guys from the office — have their headbands, they have their knee pads, they have that determined look in their eyes.

At least until early Saturday afternoon, when they lose their second game. But then they’ll get to rest up the next morning, soothe their tired muscles, adjust their bandages, tell their war stories — and start planning for next year. Next year, they’ll make it through to Sunday for sure. Visit (MB)


Summer Parkways


Ciclovia in action in Bogota, Colombia

Road closures don’t usually make the cut for totally fun, summer-y stuff to do. But this summer, things are going to be a little different. Let’s close some roads!

OK, one road in particular. On two different days this summer — July 11 and Aug. 22 — HOWARD STREET will be shut off to cars from Riverfront Park to Corbin Park. That’s two entire miles. The only type of vehicles allowed will be those powered by your muscles: bikes, skates, skateboards, your shoes. Sound impossible? It’s not! It’s been done in San Francisco, Portland and the countries of Spain and Brazil. And in its birthplace of Bogota, Colombia, where the first “Ciclovia” took place.

The benefits of such an odd occurrence are many, but here are few: It’s free, it’s healthy, it’s fun for the family, and it’s a great way to support alternative forms of transportation in our lovely, burgeoning city.

“What this offers people is a lot of safety, a lot of peace of mind, because it’s a wide-open space where people can ride bikes, walk or skate,” a participant in the original Ciclovia event says in a video. “[They’re] totally safe, totally confident that nothing will happen to them because these are lanes that are specifically designated for recreation, for shared living and physical activity.”

Organizers include the city of Spokane, Spokane Parks and Recreation and the Spokefest Association, so this ain’t no renegade operation. Yoga events will be free for all, as will some martial arts activities. As the route slips by the Flour Mill, the Arena and the Cretin Hop (not to mention house after house), participants can expect the unexpected. And, of course, a fitness fun time.

It’s a 21st-century block party — one that stretches for 22 blocks.

And like all great events, it will only happen with volunteer support. So visit and volunteer, why don’t ya? (ND)


Rock Utilization

The catastrophic Ice Age floods tore through our landscape well before Spokane was a city. But their effects can still be felt today, mainly in the form of all those granite “erratics” jutting up everywhere (but especially on the South Hill). Well, powder up those hands, put on those tiny, sticky shoes and climb some rocks. (But, of course, first you should head to WILD WALLS for a primer on safety tips.)

Spokane offers many choices for urban climbing — places like MINNEHAHA, DEEP CREEK in Riverside State Park and DISHMAN HILLS, but we suggest boulder-ing around on those 10-foot-tall thumbs behind the Corbin Art Center or at LINCOLN PARK. Hell, some nice outlaw climber has already pounded some pitons into the rocks below Cliff Drive. (ND)


The Freedom of Falling

skydiver.jpgSusan Thiss, 70, is afraid of heights. “If I get on a stepstool, my toes become prehensile,” Thiss says. They curl up, paralyzed.

So why, you may ask, was she staring out of a cargo hold 15,000 feet above Ritzville, above the fields and plains? And why, for goodness sakes, would she take a step out from the safety of the plane, and plunge down, down, down toward the ground below?

“I have no idea,” Thiss says. “If I sounded speechless, I still am.”

It was just an unexplained itch that began near her 70th birthday. Maybe it runs in her blood, she speculates. When she arrived at WEST PLAINS SKYDIVING, she came with an entourage. And she had an outfit. She and eight friends designed a flight costume. They decked her out in flight boots and an old aviator helmet with mercury wings painted on the side.

Rex Menke, who runs West Plains Skydiving, has been skydiving since 1984. He met his wife skydiving. His kids skydive. And at West Plains Skydiving, they do 600 tandem skydives a year.

Up in the air, back in the plane, the dark clouds and wind made it seem like they might have to cancel the jump altogether. But at that moment, the clouds parted. The wind stopped. Thiss and the tandem instructor stepped out of the plane.

She fell. She concentrated on breathing normally, just as her instructor told her. Inhale… exhale… Her cheeks were flapping as the air rushed past. She fell for 7,000 feet — more than a mile. And then the tandem instructor pulled the cord. The parachute opened.

Suddenly: Quiet. Calm. As she floated nearly 10,000 feet in the air, an incredible sense of peace that defied description washed over her.

And that was the weird thing. She was never scared during the whole experience — her family was a bit worried for her, but she never was. She was giggling, but not out of nervousness.

“There hasn’t been anyone I have talked to who hasn’t thought I was crazy,” Thiss says. “Even my 8-year-old grandson said he might try it now… It is so exquisite.”

And now, perhaps, that stepladder won’t seem so intimidating. (DW)


Roping Good Times

There are certain things a rodeo rider has become accustomed to: the sound of the crowd, the feel of the saddle, the taste of dust, the smell of manure. Across the second weekend of July, the CHENEY RODEO, in all its rootin’-tootin’ glory, will come to the West Plains area. That’s three full days of bull-riding, calf-roping, parading, pony-riding, and country-music dancing. Cowboys and cowgirls come from far and wide to compete for upwards of $40,000. Tickets: $12; $16 at the door. Visit, y’all. (DW)


Dust Off the Bike

Summer is that time when you pull out the Huffy out from the maw of the garage and promise that you and your wife will go on at least one grand bike ride. But by now, after 13 summers, you’re running out of new trails. Yet with a full 7.6 miles of the FISH LAKE TRAIL near Cheney now paved, you can finally wave goodbye to Riverside State Park. Just find the Fish Lake trailhead at Government Way and Milton Street. Go here for more. (DW)



There’s nothing quite as summer-y as a pickup game of beach volleyball. Especially when a friendly game turns completely and utterly ruthless. But for those who like to see a volleyball game with a bit more skill than your average beach side pickup bumpfest, NORTHERN QUEST CASINO has you covered. At the Northern Quest casino, on June 23 at 4 pm, women’s doubles volleyball teams from Florida, Illinois, California and Minnesota will appear, ready to spike their way to victory. Each member of the winning team gets a $5,000 prize, so you know they want it. Admission is free. Visit (DW)

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Coeur d'Alene Blues Festival 2023 @ The Coeur d'Alene Resort

March 31-April 2
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About The Authors

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.

Nicholas Deshais

Nicholas Deshais is the Editor of the Inlander, where he oversees the entire editorial operation and supervises news coverage. He was a staff writer for the paper from 2008-12, and has worked for various news outlets, including Portland’s newsweekly Willamette Week, the Spokesman-Review, Northwest Public Broadcasting...

Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.

Joel Smith

Joel Smith is the media editor for The Inlander. In that position, he manages and directs and edits all copy for the website, the newspaper and all other special publications. A former staff writer, he has reported on local and state politics, the environment, urban development and culture, Spokane's...

Blair Tellers

Blair Tellers is a freelance writer and a former Inlander intern.

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...