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Ready, Set, Go! Community Athletics

Ready, Set, Go! Community Athletics

Greater Gainesville is home to sports teams known well all around the nation at the University of Florida, and there is definitely no shortage of opportunities to see amazing athletes in action. The best part is: One does not need to be a college student to join in on the fun and competitive spirit.  

Greater Gainesville has a variety of sporting options for all athletic abilities and aspirations, whether just having fun in a recreational league or training to become the next top professional athlete. 


Greater Gainesville Youth Sports Programs

From expert-level training for budding athletes to rec leagues that focus on fun, Gainesville youth sports fit a variety of skill levels and goals. For the former, Greater Gainesville has a legacy of success raising pros. Both Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and former professional football player Clinton Portis grew up training in Gainesville, and these are just two of many success stories. 

Getting a child involved in a sport has many proven benefits, including improved academic achievement, promoting a healthier lifestyle and better physical and mental health, not to mention the many life skills children can gain through sports. Luckily, there are a plethora of programs to serve local youth. 


On the Field 

For kids wanting to try their hand at America’s favorite pastime, Gatorball offers recreational baseball and softball leagues, plus training camps and clinics. Ready to take it to the next level? Join a travel team with Warriors Fast Pitch, expanding the competitive atmosphere. 

Before playing under those high school Friday night lights, many football players and cheerleaders get a good head start through Pop Warner. Gainesville Pop Warner Football & Cheer offers recreational leagues and instruction for ages 5 to 15. 

For middle schoolers, the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida offers one of the top tackle football and cheerleading leagues in Alachua County. For a non-tackle option, the National Flag Football League accepts ages fourth through eighth grade and teaches football fundamentals. 

Soccer lovers will be at home in one of the area’s premier youth soccer leagues, including the Gainesville Soccer Alliance and Gainesville Youth Soccer Inc. Gainesville is also home to organizations like i9 Sports and Upward, where kids can join various youth leagues including baseball, basketball, football and soccer.  

For extra practice off the field, a number of facilities provide expert-level training for young athletes. Perfect hitting, fielding and catching at Elite Baseball, or work on soccer skills with Dutch Touch Soccer. For the tiniest of tykes, the City of Gainesville Smart Start Sports Program provides instruction for preschool ages that help develop motor skills and athletic ability.   

When youth in Alachua County reach high school, they have opportunities to join some pretty impressive sports teams. Just a few recent accomplishments from area high school teams include:  

  • State Champions — Santa Fe High School volleyball 
  • State Champions — Hawthorne Middle/High School girls and boys basketball  
  • Hawthorne Middle/High School competed in football state championship 
  • Oak Hall School competed in football state championship 


Fast Facts

Alachua County is home to several state-level competitions, including: 

  • Florida Senior Games 
  • Sunshine State Games 
  • USA Artistic Swimming  
  • Junior Olympics 


Off The Field 

Adrenaline junkies in training can race at High Springs BMX Center, where registration is open to ages as young as 18 months. Residents also have the option to bike, ride and roller skate at the Gainesville Skate Park. 

The Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association offers playing leagues and instruction for kindergarten through 12th grade. The 300 Club was established with families in mind offering tennis, pickleball, swimming and even yoga for ages 5-18. 

For parents that wish to get their child a head start in swimming, youth swimming lessons can be found at the City of Gainesville Aquatics, Gator Water Polo and Swim Academy and the YMCA. For those that wish to compete on a swim or dive team, the Gator Swim Club offers swim teams for 6 and up, and Makos Aquatic Club hosts swim meets for children as young as four. 

Finding it difficult to choose a favorite sport? O2B Kids! offers memberships that include gymnastics, soccer, cheer, ninja and yoga lessons. 


Adult Athletics

From embracing the sunshine through outdoor sports to getting active indoors no matter the weather, Greater Gainesville has a multitude of recreational activities for adult residents. 


The Great Outdoors 

Florida is the Sunshine State so, naturally, Greater Gainesville provides many options for its residents to get out, get active and socialize. 

Get some exercise and enjoy the scenery at one of the area’s beautiful parks, like Depot Park or Alfred A. Ring Park. Hit a round at the City of Gainesville’s picturesque Ironwood Golf Course, or rent a kayak or canoe at Adventure Outpost and spend the day exploring the Santa Fe River.  

For a chance to meet other locals and engage in some friendly competition, join the City’s co-ed or men’s softball team. Or, relive grade school glory days with Gainesville Kickball, a co-ed kickball league. Gainesville Volleyball also offers co-ed sand volleyball leagues. The Gainesville Juniors volleyball team has won seven AAU National Championships. Residents can join a tennis league with USTA Tennis. 

Looking for something that does not involve a ball but does involve plenty of socializing and exercise? The Gainesville Cycling Club hosts riding groups and cycling events for the area’s bicycle enthusiasts. 


No Sun, No Problem 

Whether it looks like rain, or the Florida heat is showing no mercy, there are plenty of indoor activities for locals to get their sweat on.  

Pump some iron at one of Greater Gainesville’s copious fitness gyms, take a breather in a yoga class or learn some new moves at a dance studio. For something a little different, head to The Knot, an indoor climbing gym that offers classes and freestyle climbing. Learn self-defense while also getting a killer workout at Star Martial Arts, with classes for both children and adults. Head to The North Central Florida YMCA and take a group exercise class or swim some laps in the indoor pool. 


Sports Complexes 

Champions Park 

A state-of-the-art complex that features youth baseball and fast-pitch softball fields. 

See Also

Easton-Newberry Sports Complex 

A whopping 100 acres of multi-recreational use and archery-specific property, including 20,000-square-feet of indoor space plus baseball and softball fields. 

Jonesville Sports Park 

A premier sports and family park that offers various recreational fields, picnic and play facilities and a one-mile fitness trail. 

Albert “Ray” Massey Park 

A recently renovated sports complex that includes baseball and softball fields, racquet courts and fitness stations. 

Citizens Field 

A multi-use stadium where community football, lacrosse, rugby and soccer games are played. 

Fred Cone Park 

A track and field facility that features an eight-lane, competition quality, 440-meter rubberized track and interior field.  

Jonesville Tennis Center 

A community tennis center that offers lighted clay courts and a beach tennis court. 

Alachua County Sports Complex at Celebration Pointe 

This 130,000-square-foot multipurpose complex is under construction at Celebration Pointe and will include 13 basketball courts, 18 volleyball courts, 21 pickleball courts and an indoor banked track. 


Greater Gainesville Alternative Sports 


Horse lovers are in good company in Gainesville. The Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center is a showman’s paradise, but for a more laid-back ride, the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park and San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park offer horseback riding trails. Gainesville is less than an hour from Ocala, a destination in the equine world as home to the World Equestrian Center and the Florida Horse Park, the official training site for the U.S. Equestrian Team. 

Tree Climbing 

Who needs mountains when there are towering oaks? Learn to tree climb like a pro with Canopy Climbers, a company that provides expert tree climbing instruction. 

Scuba and Freediving 

Reach new depths at the Scuba Monkey Dive Center that offers instruction in scuba diving and free diving. With close proximity to a high concentration of freshwater springs, divers will never run out of underwater places to explore. 


Work on target practice or take a class at the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex 5,000 square foot indoor archery range. 

Ultimate Frisbee 

Gainesville has two Ultimate Frisbee courses that are certified by the Professional Disc Golf Association: Jonesville and Northside Park. The Chain Hawks Disc Golf Club hosts events and tournaments year-round at the parks that engage people from all over the county. 


By Shelley Akins 

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