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Soccer is the Game, Developing Leaders is the Game Plan – Celebrating at Disney Cup International

posted on July 23rd, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


“At the end of the day they don’t remember the scores….. I want them to remember the experience, I want them to remember the feeling.” With that belief at the center of his coaching, Steven Horwood of the Ajax Football Club from Ontario, Canada, has led his team to victory both on and off the pitch. The majority of his team has played together since they were 8-years-old, and now playing in their final season together, Horwood thought the Disney Cup International, Presented by AS Roma was the right thing to do for all they have accomplished.

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Ajax Football Club was one of 239 teams, more than 3,500 players, representing 18 countries, to play in the tournament. Teams from Canada, South America, Aruba and as far away as Australia came to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort to test their skill against international competition.

But before stepping on the plane to come to Disney, before the kick-off whistle blew for their first game, Ajax FC was already a winner when it came to international sportsmanship.

For more than seven years these young women have volunteered more than 3,000 hours in their community helping others. The most notable program has them literally giving away the jerseys off their backs. Through the SOS Children’s Village program the team donates jerseys and soccer equipment to kids in Ghana, Africa. To date they have donated more than 300 uniforms, and expect to send another 200 after the tournament at Disney, as well as some other Disney keepsakes.

“Soccer is the sport but we really wanted to make them community leaders,” said coach Horwood. Helping fellow teammates in Africa is rewarding and raises their awareness of the world around them. Recently the girls received photographs of kids in Africa wearing their jerseys and playing with their equipment. “Growing up soccer has been kind of a lifestyle for me, something I really enjoy, giving the chance to give other kids in Africa the chance to play is fulfilling,” said Ajax FC defensive back Lauren Pugh.

On behalf of everyone at Disney Soccer and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, I want to congratulate Ajax FC for their hard work on and off the pitch. Win or lose, we celebrate the fact you have all scored one of the most important goals of your lives.

For more information on Disney Cup International and other Disney Soccer events, visit espnwwos.com.

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Meet ESPN Talent During the Inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Convention at Walt Disney World

posted on July 15th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Nothing says “fall” like tailgate parties, chili cook-offs and, of course, football season. On August 22-23, you can officially kick-off sport’s greatest season of the year with ESPN‘s inaugural Fantasy Football Convention, taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The first-of-its-kind event features unprecedented access to ESPN talent including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Sara Walsh, Mark Schlereth, Stephania Bell, Tim Hasselbeck and more!

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Start things off with an epic Tailgate Party, where you can mix and mingle with ESPN talent and be a judge in the first-ever ESPN Chili Bowl. Decorated Disney Chefs from around the world will serve up their best creations for a chance at this prestigious award. The next morning, you’ll have breakfast with some of your favorite characters decked out for the gridiron.

Ever wonder what it’s like behind-the-scenes of an ESPN studio show? You’ll get the chance to find out, as the Convention includes a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now. The event finale features the opportunity to take part in a live fantasy football draft. Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a long-time veteran, you’ll get the chance to pick your teams with the help of ESPN Fantasy

Experts roaming the floor. And best yet, season winners of leagues created during the Convention will receive a customized trophy. Talk about bragging rights!

For more information on the inaugural Fantasy Football Convention at Walt Disney World Resort and to register, click here.

Who’s ready for some football?

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NFL Superstar Drew Brees Takes The Field At ESPN Wide World of Sports

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


“Who Dat” at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort? Well “Dat” is Drew Brees, eight time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.

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This week Brees called the sports complex home as more than 300 high school athletes from across the country participated in the exclusive Drew Brees Passing Academy. These young athletes had the opportunity to learn from Brees and train with other NFL superstars such as Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals), Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles) and Darrelle Revis (New England Patriots). Participants were exposed to new training techniques for conditioning and performance, and then participated with team members in a two-day 7-on-7 Tournament. Proceeds from the Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7-on-7 Tournament benefit The Brees Dream Foundation, established in 2003 to help cancer patients with quality care and education for children and families.

Here is a look at the amazing experience these high school athletes enjoyed.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex allows athletes of all ages and skill levels to compete and celebrate like the pros do; whether they go on to collegiate/professional fame or not, every athlete takes with them lessons learned that shapes their character, personal and professional development. Brees joins a long list of elite athletes such as Kerri Walsh Jennings, Casey Powell and several English Premiere League soccer players, that come to the complex to create unforgettable experiences with young athletes.

If you are interested in more information on the Drew Brees Passing Academy or ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, visit espnwwos.com.

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Youth Soccer Team Scores Trip to Brazil at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on May 30th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Nearly 600 teams from across the country took to the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort for the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout presented by Danimals. The three-day competition is one of the largest youth tournaments in the country.

For 18 U12 teams playing in the Dannon Division, the stakes were a little higher than just trying to win a championship. These teams were playing in the Danone Nations Cup US Qualifying Tournament. The winning team receives an all expense trip to Brazil later this year following the World Cup, to compete against 39 other nations for an international championship.

The championship game on Memorial Day featured two teams from Florida, Jacksonville FC v. Weston FC. After a tough defensive battle and a scoreless first half, Jacksonville scored on a penalty kick late in the second half to edge out Weston 1-0.

At ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex we strive to provide youth athletes the chance to enjoy a professional experience and now these young boys will have the experience of a lifetime. The chance to represent U.S.A. in Brazil is a dream come true for Jacksonville FC.

From all of us at Disney Sports, good luck Jacksonville FC!

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ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort hosts more than 350 events a year on more than 230-acres. It is the premier site for amateur sport in the nation and has hosted more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world. For more information on Disney soccer tournaments and other sporting events, visit espnwwos.com.

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WNBA Stars Take To the Court at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 8th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Some of the best women’s basketball players on the planet are coming to Walt Disney World Resort this weekend. The WNBA is hosting its first-ever WNBA Preseason Tournament 2014, Friday through Sunday at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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As it just so happens, the four teams competing – the Minnesota Lynx, the Chicago Sky, the Phoenix Mercury and the Indiana Fever – feature some of the biggest names in the sport. Among the top players on display will be Diana Taurasi (2009 WNBA MVP), Tamika Catchings (2011 WNBA MVP and 2012 WNBA Finals MVP) and Maya Moore (2013 WNBA Finals MVP).

And the teams are pretty good, too. The Lynx are the reigning WNBA champions. The Fever won the league title the year before. The Mercury has been league champs in 2007 and 2009. And the Sky posted the league’s best regular-season record last year (24-10).

The four-game tournament is open to the public. There will be two games on Friday starting at 6 p.m., a clinic and autograph session on Saturday for AAU girls’ basketball players and the WNBA players, and two games on Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. A two-game package on Friday and Sunday is $20 each day and a four-game package is $35. Tickets can be purchased at the sports complex box office or through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.

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Do You Have Disney’s Million Dollar Arm?

posted on April 11th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Anyone want $1 million?

Well, Walt Disney Studios is prepared to give that much money away as part of the world premiere of its new movie “Million Dollar Arm,” in which a sports agent (played by Jon Hamm) concocts a scheme to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a Major League Baseball star.

Walt Disney Studios is staging a contest on April 25th and 26th to find a real-life “million dollar arm” by offering guests (you have to be age 18 and over with no prior professional baseball experience) the chance to throw the fastest strike. Here’s how it works: Participants at three locations;­ Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and New York City, get three chances to throw a baseball as fast as possible. Participants who throw the three fastest strikes at each location will be flown to the finals in Hollywood, Calif., where they will attend the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” on May 6 and get a chance to compete for the grand prize. Any of the nine finalists who throws a 100-mph strike during their three attempts could potentially win the $1 million.

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Click here for official rules.

Even if no one wins the $1 million, everyone who steps up to the mound will be a winner in some way. All contestants will receive complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest to an advance screening of the movie at a nearby AMC Theatre location. In addition, the nine finalists and their guests will be flown to Hollywood for the movie premiere and the final competition, plus treated like VIPs along with other movie stars, Major League players and Hollywood celebrities.

If you want your shot at the million-dollar prize, just show up at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., or the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day at the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City on April 25 or 26 (New York location available only on April 25) between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time. You’ll need a valid U.S. identification card to complete and sign a registration form and release. Oh, and don’t forget your baseball glove and anything else you need to warm up.

You only have a couple of weeks to go, so start getting your arm ready. It could be worth $1 million!

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Disney 365 Live Video Shoot at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with Disney Channel Star Jake Short

posted on March 24th, 2014 by Faron Kelley, Director, Marketing & Communications, Disney Sports


We gave you an exclusive sneak peek of the filming of the Disney 365 video shoot at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with Jake Short (of Disney Channel‘s “A.N.T. Farm” and Disney XD‘s “Mighty Med“) a few months ago, and now it’s time to reveal the Disney 365 special. Take a look at the competition at the incredible ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where Short tested his soccer skills during the Disney 3v3 Soccer Championships.

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Time-Lapse Video: A Day at the Champion Stadium Ballpark at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 21st, 2014 by Matt Stroshane, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Sometimes living in Florida can seem like one perfect, endless summer. One of my favorite ways to mark the seasons though, is Spring Training baseball. The weather is perfect, the crowds aren’t too big, and atmosphere is decidedly relaxed.

I went out last week to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to photograph the Atlanta Braves host the Philadelphia Phillies. More than 27,000 pictures later, I squeezed that day into a 2-minute time-lapse video. There are still some great games coming up this season before the regular season kicks in and the Braves head back up to Atlanta.

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Mirror, Mirror, Who Is the Fittest of Them All at Walt Disney World Resort?

posted on March 6th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Think you’re super fit? Want to find out?

Come check out the inaugural Disney Fit Challenge, a three-day competitive fitness event in September where competitors will test the limits of their power, speed, balance, strength and endurance in a series of fitness maneuvers. And if you think you can really stack up against the competitors, then sign up to be a part of the September 26-28 event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex when registration opens March 18.

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If you haven’t heard, competitive fitness is arguably America’s trendiest sport with hundreds of thousands of people nationwide and beyond participating in the sport, and more getting involved every day. Some national competitions involve as many as 1,000 athletes.

But not all competitive fitness events are alike. One of the unique aspects of Disney Fit Challenge is that it’s designed so that competitors only compete against other fitness buffs of similar age and skill level spanning several divisions, including elite, intermediate and recreational. And the fitness maneuvers are also tailored based on age and ability, with experienced fitness athletes tasked with advanced exercises such as muscle ups and recreational athletes doing more basic exercises such as squats, pushups and kettle bell swings.

Competitors amass points based on their performance in each fitness exercise with the top point leaders from the first two days advancing to the final day of competition. Follow Disney Sports on Twitter @DisneySports to get more details on registration and spectator information.

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Real American Heroes to be Honored at Braves Game at Walt Disney World

posted on March 5th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Disney has often shown its appreciation for U.S. military veterans and their service. Now for the second year in a row, we’re hosting a Military Appreciation Day during an Atlanta Braves spring training game at Walt Disney World Resort this week.

During the Braves-Marlins game on Saturday afternoon at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney Sports is offering half-priced tickets on select seats for military personnel. Also, Army Colonel Stephanie Rivers will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and military personnel in attendance will be honored in various ways, including a sing-along medley of military anthems.

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Supporting the U.S. Armed Forces and celebrating their service has long been a Disney tradition. In March 2012, we introduced our Heroes Work Here program, building on a proud legacy with a new company-wide initiative to hire at least 1,000 veterans and provide additional support military families. In March of last year, we expanded our goal to hire an additional 1,000 veterans through 2015, and to date, have hired more than 3,000 veterans.

So join us at our latest military appreciation effort and come on out to the game Saturday. General admission tickets and the specially-priced military personnel tickets can be purchased at the sports complex box office.

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