On a recent Friday, I watched nearly two dozen peewee football players form tight huddles, each on opposite ends of a green Astroturf field inside one of the two Cascade Indoor Sports buildings. In a fit of giggles, the offensive team, in yellow pennies, unleashed an unorthodox trick play that can best be described as a quarterback sneak and a fireman carry. Serving as quarterback, the facility's program manager, an affable 20-year-old, picked up one of the pint-sized, elementary school-aged running backs and carried him, and the ball, past an invisible first down marker. Players on both sides squealed with delight.
"First down!" declared Matt Wessells, the facility's program director and, this hour, the quarterback. By all accounts, the play was a success.
But here at Cascade Indoor Sports—two sprawling warehouses north of Bend that boast nearly 50,000 square feet of sporting space—games aren't just for kids. The center runs a slew of adult league events as well, from indoor soccer, to volleyball, to dodgeball. And with winter upon us (mild as it has been), thousands of Central Oregonians are turning indoors to get their kicks.
"This is the peak of the season for us," says owner Butch Roberts, who took over the business four and a half years ago, and invested in a number of smart improvements that make the indoor experience more pleasurable. The massive campus now advertises everything from yoga to local beer. Even so, it is still the center's two open spaces—one that doubles as a skating rink and volleyball court, and the other an Astroturf field—that are its bread and butter.
During a typical week in January, Cascade Indoor Sports keeps a brisk schedule: youth Sports Camps almost every morning; adult dodgeball on Monday nights, adult volleyball on Tuesday nights; youth roller hockey and open skate sessions on Friday nights (on the rink) as well as flag foot football (next door, on the turf); and adult-league soccer most every night of the week. Then there are the birthday parties, Zumba dance and yoga classes, and monthly Roller Derby bouts (next bout is Jan. 11).
"We have a lot of balls in the air," Roberts says.
As we toured the facility, Roberts explained how adult dodgeball has blossomed. And not just in Bend. Perhaps buoyed by the 2004 Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn comedy Dodgeball, adult dodgeball has enjoyed a nationwide resurgence. Last spring, in a small town north of Albany, New York, a group of dodgeball fanatics played the game for 43 straight hours. In doing so, they set a new Guinness World Record.
"Dodgeball has been a huge hit," says Roberts, who launched the league nearly three years ago. It's co-ed and competitive, but fun-spirited—not brutal," Roberts says. (Flag football, on the other hand, is now just for youth. After eight months, Roberts scrapped the flag football adult league, calling it a "horrible disaster—way too much testosterone.") The next dodgeball season starts Jan. 27. Games are on Monday nights and participants can register at cascadeindoorsports.com ($35 individual/$300 for a team of 12).
Also popular is the newly created high school soccer league. This fall, Roberts launched a Saturday night co-ed high school soccer league after both the Summit High boys and girls teams won the Class 5A state championships.
"Bend is soccer crazy," Roberts offers.
The young players crank Macklemore, guzzle slushies and enjoy seven-on-seven indoor soccer until 11 pm. Already, it's proven a huge success with teams rolling in from as far as Madras and Redmond. (The next session kicks off Feb. 8).
Wide-ranging programs aside, what really stands out about Cascade Indoor Sports is the attention to detail. While kids enjoy open skate (Friday and Saturday nights, Sunday midday), parents can sip a Mirror Pond and watch the NFL playoffs. An onsite café serves beer ($2.50 for a Pabst Blue Ribbon pounder or $4 for a Deschutes), Gatorade, juice, snacks and coffee drinks.
The complex may be bustling now, but summer, and even late spring, can be a struggle.
"People have a misconception about our building in the summertime," Roberts says. The affable owner then points to the roll top garage doors. "When they're open and the breeze blows through, you want to come indoors and not be dying in the sun."
Cascade Indoor Sports
20775 High Desert Lane
Go here: Sign up for adult league indoor soccer. The season starts Jan. 13, but the registration deadline is Jan. 10. There are leagues for men and women, experts, intermediates, co-ed and over 30. All matches are in the evening or on Sunday afternoons. ($65).
Or here: How about adult co-ed volleyball? The season starts Jan. 28; registration deadline is Jan. 21. Games are on Tuesday evenings. ($50 individual/$200 team).