Sporting Icons of Lake Wales

Sport is a way of life in the Sunshine State; it’s part of the culture. Visit any of the area’s many public parks over the weekend, and you’ll see countless children and young adults practicing their favorite sports and competing against local rivals. It’s as far removed from the glitz and glamor of the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, or the FIFA World Cup as you can expect to find, but it means everything to those playing. From the players to the coaches, those involved in youth sports dream of making it to the big leagues.

Only a select few youth and amateur sports stars make it to the top. The most dedicated and committed stand a chance of signing a professional contract, while hundreds of aspiring pros fall out of the picture each season. If you want to catch a glimpse of the cream of the crop, Florida boasts several successful sports teams. Watch the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB, the Miami Heat in the NBA, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. There’s something for everyone in Florida’s energetic sports scene.

If you can’t make it along to the stadium to watch one of Florida’s top teams or athletes in action, you can always follow the game, race, or fight live on television. The most popular sportsbooks, including the best UFC betting websites and the latest NFL apps, offer markets and odds on the results. Study the stats, make your prediction, and watch the game on TV or the highest-quality live-streaming apps on your smartphone.

Lakes Wales plays a part

When residents of Lake Wales watch the biggest and best sporting events, they’ll likely follow the most famous teams flying the flag for Florida. The Polk County city doesn’t boast the same sporting attractions and huge stadiums as some of the state’s biggest areas, but Lake Wales certainly packs a punch. Pound-for-pound, it holds its own against neighbors.

How knowledgeable are you about sports stars from Lake Wales? Are you fully up-to-speed on the city’s best talent and the athletes who became household names? Do you know the impact local coaches have had on the top teams or how a little-known basketball player went from the courts of Lake Wales to the center of the NBA, playing for a respected team?

As we prepare for an exciting summer of sport, which includes the UEFA European Championships, Olympic Games, and other favorites, our writers take a brief pause. We want to remind readers of some of the sporting gems that have emerged from Lake Wales over the years. Some are better remembered than others. We worked towards a good spread of popular sports and competitions, ensuring there’s something for everyone in this article.

Keep reading as we detail the trailblazers; athletes who proved anything is possible with hard work, dedication, and commitment. These are the men who used their skills to reach the top and drive Lake Wales into the spotlight. We’ve chosen our favorites, but rest assured, there are many more. There’s also a steady stream of players dropping off the area’s talent conveyor belt, ready to hit the big time and showcase the area’s talent.

The most popular sportsbooks, including the best UFC betting websites and the latest NFL apps, offer markets and odds on the results.

Pat Borders

No list of sporting greats from Lake Wales could begin without Pat Borders, one of the most celebrated and successful men from the area. Borders was a Major League Baseball star who began his career in 1988 and was active until retiring in 2005. The defining moment of the catcher’s time came when named Most Valuable Player at the 1992 World Series when playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. And if that wasn’t enough, Pat is also the proud owner of an Olympic Games gold medal after securing glory with the United States baseball team in 2000 at the Sydney Games.

Most sports stars would be happy with even a fraction of the success enjoyed by Borders, but he’s a man who keeps pushing the limits and isn’t ready to quit. Pat enjoys the cut-and-thrust of life in baseball, so much so that he is working as manager of the Williamsport Crosscutters. You’ll see him on the sidelines of the New York-Penn League. Fans hope Borders enjoys as much success in baseball management as he did during his playing days. Could we one day see him back in MLB?

Wade Davis

Sticking with baseball, we celebrate Wade Davis, a former pitcher who reached the dizzy heights of a three-time MLB All-Star. The Lake Wales-born star enjoyed success at the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs, and the Colorado Rockies.

Davis achieved things most baseball players couldn’t dream of, including a title-winning season in 2015 that etched his name into history books. Wade was a member of the Kansas City Royals team that famously won the 2015 World Series, beating the New York Mets 4-1 to clinch the prize. Wade was instrumental in that success and earned the Babe Ruth Award for his efforts in driving the team to the title.

Amar’e Stoudemire

Switching sports, we move to a Lake Wales player who defied critics to carve out a glittering career in professional basketball, including in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Amar’e Stoudemire is a 6ft 10-inch power forward who played for several famous teams, including the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and the Miami Heat. He also plied his trade in the Israeli Basketball Premier League for star team Maccabi Tel Aviv, placing his hometown firmly on the map.

Stoudemire won several major awards during his playing days in the United States and Israel. His list of achievements includes being NBA Rookie of the Year for 2003, appearing in NBA All-Star games in 2005, 2007, and 2011, and the All-NBA First Team honor in 2007. Overseas, Amar’e is a two-time Israeli Basketball Premier League winner and an IBPL Finals Most Valuable Player. Other medals on show in his cabinet include the 2019 Israeli Cup and the 2016 Israeli League Cup.

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