The Athlete

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Keep 'em Busy: Performance Boosters

Kids as young as eight will pick up speed at one of Velocity Sports Performance's three- and four-day camp sessions
this summer. For three hours each day, they'll learn about proper form and conditioning. The camps, starting at $99 a session, are led by Velocity coaches, all of whom were Division I college athletes and have at least an undergraduate degree in a sports-related field. Training is also available throughout the school year. 10345 Nations Ford Rd., 704-588-1770,

Pint-sized Decor: Athletic Interiors

Make your athletic wee one's room sporty with accessories, such as a mirrored acrylic display case from O' So Clear of Concord, which makes standard-size boxes for prized footballs and basketballs ($45), baseballs ($15), and jerseys ($130), or it can custom design one for a special sports paraphernalia collection.  

Get a life-size wall decal of your kiddo making his first slam dunk from SCSR Action Photos. The company, which is affiliated with the South Charlotte Sports Report, will cut away the background from a high-resolution action photo (yours or theirs) and make the image of your athlete into a repositionable vinyl wall sticker, also known as a "fat head" decal. They can make them from three feet ($59) to seven feet ($130) tall. O' So Clear, 704-791-3435,; SCSR Action Photos, 704-906-5466,

Dressed to: The Outdoorsman

Load up the minivans and head to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in northwest Mecklenburg County for an afternoon of rafting. With a minimum of ten kids, you'll pay $35 per kid for about an hour on the world's largest man-made recirculating river. Something cheaper? Check out the flat-water kayaking for $21 per kid (only with a ten-kid minimum).

U.S. National Whitewater Center

U.S. National Whitewater Center

They'll be pretty hungry after either adventure, so treat them to a burger or sandwich ($8 to $11 each) at the center's restaurant, River's Edge Bar & Grill, followed by a cake you bring yourself. The folks at Polka Dot Bake Shop can put together one of their pull-apart cupcake cakes, decorated to look like the Catawba River ($3.25 per cupcake). And you won't even need a knife. 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., 704-391-3900,, 1730 E. Woodlawn Rd.,

Hot Gear

Omega Sports has made a name for itself as the place to buy soccer, baseball, and football cleats ($18 to $60). And because kids are starting organized sports so early these days, they stock them as small as a teeny-tiny toddler size 81/2 (suitable for the average two-and-a-half-year-old). For athletic wear, hardcore junior competitors prefer Under Armour T-shirts and shorts ($17 to $30), with HeatGear technology that keeps them cool so they can play longer. Sign up at the store to get emailed sales alerts and coupons.Park Road Shopping Center, 4271B Park Rd.; Arboretum, 8036 Providence Rd.; Rivergate, 14136 Rivergate Pkwy.;

Special features: At the Omega Rivergate location, staff can videotape you running on a treadmill, then play the footage back in frame-by-frame slow motion to analyze your gait and determine the ideal type of running shoe for you.

On model: shirt: POLO by Ralph Lauren, $50; Shorts: POLO by Ralph Lauren, $35, both at Belk; Shoes: New Balance, $45, Omega Sports

Summer must haves
Rainbow sandals ($45).

Touchdown Brownies

• 1 box (1 pound, 6.5 ounces) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
• Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box
• Betty Crocker® white decorating icing (from 4.25-ounce tube)

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13 x 9-inch pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over short sides of pan. Grease bottom only of foil with cooking spray or shortening.

Make and bake brownie mix as directed on box for 13 x 9-inch pan, using water, oil and eggs. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies. Cut brownies with 31/2  x 2-inch football-shaped cookie cutter. Pipe on decorating icing to look like football laces.

Categories: Feature