On Tuesday afternoons, at the MB Ice Arena on the Near West Side, eleven-year-old Zariah Castleberry adjusts the straps on her hockey helmet, pads, and skates before hobbling over to the ice. She joins ten kids between the ages of seven and seventeen for ninety minutes of skating and stick-handling drills. Zariah comes back to the locker room tired but happy. This is her fourth year playing hockey.
Last month, just outside of Little Village and Lawndale, the Cicero Stadium held a spectacular Lucha Libre Total celebration. The event featured the performance of iconic Mexican wrestlers El Hijo Del Santo, Discovery, Yakuza, and Dr. Cerebro, as well as former WWE wrestler Super Crazy. But in the main and final attraction of the night, attendees young and old only cared to catch a glimpse of legendary WWE champion Rey Mysterio. With its high-flying and dangerous stunts, Lucha Libre Total embraced the Mexican free-fighting tradition.
One wouldn’t have needed to be in Wrigleyville on the early morning of November 3, 2016—when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, igniting a citywide celebration more than a century in the making—to know that Chicago loves baseball. That championship team was notable not only for its Series victory but also for the four African-American players who played major roles throughout the 2016 regular season and playoff run. In an era of a well-documented dearth of Black players in Major League Baseball (MLB) compared to previous decades, center fielder and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler (now with the rival St. Louis Cardinals), right fielder Jason Heyward, shortstop Addison Russell, and relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. represented a noteworthy exception to a sport-wide trend. In many ways, it’s fitting that a roster with four Black players—tied with the Boston Red Sox for the most in the MLB—took part in bringing a championship back to Chicago, a city that has played such a major role in the history of baseball in the African-American community, and that is spearheading the MLB’s efforts to revive baseball participation in inner cities nationwide.
Fred Evans is a swim coach at South Shore International College Prep, a selective enrollment school located on 75th and Jeffery. He has coached swimming in Chicago for over forty years, starting at Chicago State in 1974 and then moving on to Chicago South Swim Club, the first integrated swim team in the city. Before he was a coach, he swam at the collegiate level, where he became the first African American national swimming champion in the United States. His daughter Ajá Evans was an Olympic bobsledder and his son Frederick Evans III played in the NFL for nine years.
Hermene Hartman is a Chicago publisher who runs N’DIGO magazine, a publication focused on black perspectives and experiences. In 2005, Hartman honored Muhammad Ali with the lifetime achievement award at N’DIGO’s 10th annual gala. She spoke to the Weekly about how the event unfolded, what Ali meant to Chicago, his introduction to then-Senator Barack Obama, and how the Champ will be remembered in his once-hometown after his recent death.
“People don’t think girls will come out to contact sports but girls will come out in droves for contact sports if you give them the opportunities.”
To call XS Tennis Village, a 112,000 square foot, $9.8 million facility to be opened on the corner of 54th and State in Washington Park, simply a tennis center would be shortsighted. It’s clear from XS Tennis and Educational Foundation’s mission for the village, which will break ground this year, that the educational component of the name is just as important as the tennis. Continue reading