Every year on ESPN Radio and the V Foundation raises money for cancer research by offering some unique and very cool sports experiences up for bid.
I’ve always thought we could do this in northern Michigan as well, so here’s my take by sport:
FOOTBALL: Sideline passes for the Traverse City Central-West football game, a half on each sideline and a set of headphones to hear the conversation between the coaches. Say you pick West for the first half, the experience also includes a visit to the locker room before the game and a chance to call three plays during the half. At halftime, you get to hear the adjustments made for the second half in the Central locker room and call three more plays in the final 30 minutes. After the game, you present the Olson-Nowak Memorial Trophy to the winning team.
BASKETBALL: Two experiences are up for bid here, one for a male and one for a female. In this experience, you play a game of two-on-two. The catch: your teammates are the reigning Mr. and Miss Basketball in the state, Dwaun Anderson of Suttons Bay and Jasmine Hines of Central Lake. The prize: the winner takes possession of the Mr. or Miss Basketball trophy and take it home for the weekend.
VOLLEYBALL: Take a hundred swings while being set up by All-American and national champion setter Alisha Glass. Then for fun, have the former Leland standout serve 25 balls at you. Earn another attempt for everyone you get back over the net.
GOLF: You join a foursome of reigning Michigan Open champion Randy Hutchison, 2010 Michigan Amateur champion and 2011 runner-up Joey Garber and six-time Michigan Open and Grand Traverse Resort & Spa head professional Scott Hebert for a round of golf on any of four courses in the area.
HOCKEY: After a day of instruction from the Red Wing of your choice, you get a chance to score on Jimmy Howard on a penalty shot. During the Red-White game, you get to sit with the Detroit brass (complete with matching outfit) including general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nil on the perch overlooking the rink at Centre ICE.
TRACK/CROSS COUNTRY: A week of training runs with former Glen Lake standout Marissa Treece and former Central Lake star Stephen Shay. Also part of the package are three admissions to three northern Michigan races of your choice.
BASEBALL: Pitch batting practice to Frankfort standout Kyle Zimmerman and see how many pitches you can get past him. Then, receive a limousine ride to Wuerfel Park where you’ll not only throw out the first pitch, but also coach first base at a Beach Bums game. Cap it all off by leading a rendition of the seventh-inning stretch.
SOFTBALL: Take batting practice against former Petoskey product and Trine University pitcher Andi Gasco. You get a bonus swing for every foul ball, two extra swings for everyone you put in play.
DOWNHILL SKIING: Spend a whole day on the ski hill of your choice. Bonus is an hour of lessons with three-time giant slalom state champion Katherine Rowley of East Jordan.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Hit a local trail for a day of skiing. Your training partners for this excursion include former prep and collegiate skiers Julia and Anna Coulter of Traverse City and Cassidy Edwards of Glen Lake. Make a big enough bid and we’ll add Milan Baic to the mix.
SOCCER: Face off against University of Maryland soccer standout Casey Townsend on the pitch. Face Townsend in 20 penalty shot and try to stop one. For every one that doesn’t find the back of the net, you get to take five shots with Townsend in goal.
TENNIS: Two openings for this experience. After a two-hour lesson from long-time Traverse City Central coach Larry Nykerk, hit the court and face the Trojans’ No. 1 doubles team of Maggie Milliken and Amanda Street. Win a set from the duo and earn an extra hour lesson from Nykerk. If you fail to win a game, come back during a Central practice and pick up all the tennis balls.
These are just some of the bids available for some northern Michigan sports experiences. So call now, phone lines are open.