Each year, approximately on the second weekend in March, Tallahassee hosts the "Red Hills Horse Trials". Started as a smaller local event, the RHHT has grown, in little more than a decade, to be a premier pre-Olympic event, attracting Olympians and Olympic hopefuls from all over the world.
The trials are held in one of Tallahassee's many large park areas, the Elinor Klapp Phipps park at Red Hills. The course was designed by and with the active participation of Capt. Mark Phillips, former husband of Britains Princess Anne. As many of you know, Capt. Phillips was a member of the 1976 British Olympic Equestrian team.
The trials run for three days, with the first day (Friday) being dedicated to dressage, the second and best (Saturday) to cross-country trails, and the final Sunday reserved for stadium jumping. As you can see from my attached photo, access is quite close, and you can get an excellent look at these beautiful animals and their dedicated riders.
Admission for any day's activity is US$10, or you can buy an entire weekend pass for US$20. Needless to say, good weather is always appreciated. 2004 brought a spectacular set of days for the trials. See you next year????
Equipment: All you really need is an interest in horses and Olympic Equestrian activity.
Football is truly king in Tallahassee. I've already made a tip about the nationally-renowned Florida State University football team.
But, dealing with FSU will be an all day affair, and it isn't cheap. If you just love sports, and especially American football, consider attending one of the local high school games on a fall Friday or Thursday night. You can enjoy a great event, have yourself a burger and a coke, and do it all for under US$10.
If you'd like to partake, just check the local newspapers for scheduled games, or call any local high school for information.
And besides all the fun you'll have, you're supporting young people as they engage in a worthwhile endeavor.
Equipment: Just bring a seat cushion. Some of the high school stadium seats are splinter-filled.
NOTE: BE SURE TO CLICK ON THE ATTACHED PHOTO. IT IS A PANORAMIC SHOT AND THE EFFECT WILL BE MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE. : )
THE top sports draw in Tallahassee is undoubtably the Florida State University's football team. The team's nickname is the "Seminoles", in honor of (and with full support of) the local native American tribe.
The FSU Seminoles have been at or near the top of American college football for the last twenty years, winning national championships in 1993 and 1999.
If you'd like to spend a wild Saturday some fall in Tallahassee, come join the Seminole nation at Doak Campbell Stadium. Wear Seminole colors (garnet and gold) proudly.
And, if you want to fit in, be sure to harass anyone wearing the orange and blue colors of FSU's arch-rivals, the University of Florida Gators. They're the bad guys in this town.
Equipment: Bring some cold beer and a good set of vocal chords. If it's a day game, bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
Get ready to party and go nuts!
As stated in other Tallahassee sports tips, FOOTBALL (American football, not soccer) is king in Tallahassee. The basic season runs from late August until early January. But, in the springtime, the local college teams have their spring practice. At the end of the two week practice sessions, they stage was is called an intra-squad game, namely they play against each other. It's really just another practice, but they open it to the public and let everyone watch for free. When the weather is nice, it's a glorious afternoon soaking up some sun and watching some football.
Generally, they'll call the game by the schools' colors. Florida State University's colors are garnet and gold, so the spring game is the Garnet and Gold game.
I suspect that spring football practice isn't treated with this type of reverance anywhere outside of the deep south. But like I say, it's our religion... and one must live one's religion. : )
Go Seminoles! (Even when you're playing against each other in practice)
Quite a few of Tallahassee's city parks have free public tennis courts at the ready. Back about 20 years ago, during the boom period when everyone thought they'd be the next Bjorn Borg or Chris Evert, getting a court could be dicey except during "off hours". But, folks in Tallahassee have moved on to other sports failures, leaving the tennis courts pretty much unscathed.
Bottom line... if you want to play tennis, you can find a court pretty easily just about anytime.
The hike is 6 miles one way. If you merely want to get exercise, do it. I went 2 miles down the path, and it was utterly boring, going through the tree line along a well worn path. You see not water, especially since it has hardly rained here for a long time.
Baseball is considered a lesser sport in the college ranks. Clearly, football and basketball are the main sports contested between America's universities. However, for those of you who LOVE baseball, and adore a relaxing afternoon at the old ball park, I heartily suggest you check out Florida State University baseball.
FSU has one of the better programs in the USA, and often finds their way to the annual College World Series championships. The kids you'll see playing on the diamond at FSU will include many future professional stars.
And besides the game, you'll enjoy the crowd - especially FSU's main student and alumni support group, known affectionately as the Section B Animals. These yoyos have been attending FSU baseball for years - in MY college days, I was an official Section B animal myself. They're knowledgeable fans, and they are funny too. They have some of THE most odd traditions, such as singing "O Canada" in between the visitor and home at bats in the fifth inning. Apparently, some of the Animals years ago started joking around about seeing them play "O Canada" at major league games, and by adding a few beers, a tradition was born. They even sing it a second time through in French. There are hundreds of small maple leaf flags waved, and there is usually a large Canadian flag being held among the crowd. And as silly as it sounds, FSU almost always has a big inning after the traditional singing of O Canada.
You can also learn all the local lingo, including such items as "Circus Shot" (meaning a home run hit so far that it hits the nearby FSU Flying High Circus tent - FSU is the only university in the world with its own circus), "11" meaning the longtime coach of FSU, Mike Martin (his uniform number is 11. Side note, Coach Martin was MY physical education coach when I was in 8th grade at Tallahassee's Cobb Junior High School. I'll admit, none of us really saw coach becoming the success he is today, but you never know, right?), "hotdog" which refers to the standing policy that anytime the FSU team records 8 strikeouts of the opposing team in a game, everyone in attendance gets a free hot dog. Soooo, when it reaches a point that there are seven strikeouts, and an FSU pitcher gets close to that magic 8th strikeout, the crowd chants "hot dog, hot dog" instead of "strike out, strike out".
Did I mention that the stadium is one of the best in college baseball, and it's a great place to soak up some afternoon Florida sun?
If you love baseball, you will enjoy a trip to the ballpark at FSU. Give it a try, and call me - I'll go with you.
NOTE : FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PICTURES, PLEASE SEE MY FSU BASEBALL/TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME TRAVELOGUE ON MY TALLAHASSEE PAGE.