Sterling Heights

Major League: 6 trending sports to try in Sterling Heights this summer

Sterling Heights is home to a variety of recreational activities for residents of all ages. In 2016, the city’s Parks and Recreation department established the Recreating Recreation initiative — an effort to improve existing facilities and create new recreational opportunities. 

The momentum of that initiative coupled with up-and-coming local businesses make Sterling Heights a dynamic place to play. Check out the city’s trending sports this summer. 

Pickleball

Pickleball — a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and pingpong — is ever popular in Sterling Heights. 

“[Pickleball is] certainly not new,” Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois says. “It has been extremely popular over the past 15-plus years, even in Michigan. When we opened the gym side of the Senior Center in 2007, we actually, from day one, almost didn't have enough courts for pickleball.” 

First come, first serve outdoor pickleball courts are available at Avis Park, College Park, Hampton Park (pictured here), and Magnolia Park.
Throughout the past few years, the city has put more resources toward the sport. The gymnasiums at the Community Center and the Senior Center host indoor pickleball courts on specific days of the week.

The Senior Center offers drop-in pickleball, lessons, and Skills and Drills — an opportunity for those familiar with the sport to fine-tune their abilities.

“We have lessons that are maybe like a one-day clinic for somebody that might be new and just kind of wants to get their feet wet, see what pickleball is all about and why all their friends are raging about it […] Then come the fall we’ll actually be offering a pickleball league or two here for those individuals that are more competitive,” Senior Center Recreation Superintendent Kristen Briggs says. 

First come, first serve outdoor courts are also available at Avis Park, College Park, Hampton Park, and Magnolia Park — the four parks have the capacity for nine total courts. 

Bocce

The “Bocce Barn” is in the construction phase with the goal of opening this summer. The facility is located behind the Senior Center and it will offer two bocce courts. 

While the specific plans for use and programming are still underway, the facility will offer drop-in play, senior leagues, rentals, and lessons for those fifty and older by day, and it will be open to the general public in the evenings and on weekends. 

“We're certainly excited to expose our residents to another opportunity for recreation,” Langlois says. “That's what Recreating Recreation was all about — to provide new recreation opportunities, a diverse mix of recreation opportunities, to our residents so that they could kind of pick and choose what suited their fancy. [Bocce] is something that's different that really wasn't offered before.” 

Skate Park 

The Sterling Heights Skate Park opened in November of 2017 — the first cornerstone amenity that was completed on the Recreating Recreation timeline.  

The Sterling Heights Skate Park is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during April through September and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from October through March.“That has been wildly popular and successful to the point that in our most recent master plan, we actually included building a second skate park somewhere else in the city,” Langlois says. 

According to Langlois, the park has attracted not only Sterling Heights residents, but also people from the larger Metro Detroit area as it is challenging enough for higher level skaters, but still accessible for novices. 

“We thought [the park] was probably going to be utilized mostly by teenagers,” Langlois says. “It has gone in completely different directions from that. Certainly we get plenty of teenagers that use it, but still to this day, I'm surprised how many young adults use it and even young kids who use it — certainly for anybody who's got a flair for adventure in extreme wheeled sports, it’s the right place for them.” 

Catching air at the Sterling Heights Skate Park.
The park is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during April through September and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from October through March. 

Esports Arena

Esports, or electronic sports, is not limited to simulated physical sports, but includes other competitive multiplayer video games — Super Smash Bros., Fortnite, and League of Legends, to name a few. 

In October of 2021, the city of Sterling Heights, sponsored by Christian Financial Credit Union, revamped the Community Center’s Teen Room into an Esports Arena

The arena is complete with 12 gaming PCs (Alienware Aurora R12 gaming computers with i7 processors) that are set up in a configuration to allow for individual play or teams of up to six to compete against each other at a time. It also has two 65-inch TVs, a Playstation 4, a Nintendo Switch, bubble hockey, board games, and more. 

The arena is complete with 12 Alienware Aurora R12 gaming computers with i7 processors.
Drop-in play is free for Sterling Heights residents and will cost $5 for non-residents beginning July 1. For league or tournament play, there is a cost for both residents and non-residents. 

The arena has games for the consoles, as well as some loaded onto the PCs, but guests can bring their own games as well. 

“We do vet those games and make sure the content is appropriate and also look to confirm that there's no viruses or anything that we're potentially going to be loading into our system,” Langlois says. 

Kyle Langlois, Parks and Recreation Director for Sterling Heights.
Rage Rooms and Axe Throwing 

Full Throttle Adrenaline Park has five locations around the United States, including one in Sterling Heights. The park is the first in the city to offer rage rooms and axe throwing — a great way to take out pent-up energy. 

The Sterling Heights location opened in 2000 under the name Kart2Kart but has since rebranded as Full Throttle Adrenaline Park in 2021. Since the switch, the park has expanded to include a diverse range of activities — including rage rooms. 

Rage rooms are open to anyone 18 years of age and older. Guests are provided safety equipment such as coveralls, hard hats, and eye protection, and of course, a sledgehammer to smash an old television. 

“You can go in there with your friends, you can play music, and you can literally just take a sledgehammer to a TV and bust it all up,” Marketing Manager Tuesday Monsion says. 

The park also has six axe throwing lanes. Guests ages 12 and up can practice their aim with Full Throttle’s unique projected targets.  

“We actually have a digitally-projected software so we can put zombies up or beer pong cups or we did a really cool ‘may the force be with you’ axe target [...] We created our own software to make this more of an interactive user experience,” Monsion says. 

Read more articles by Sarah Gudenau.