Gifts for sports fans made easy

Sports geeks are sometimes the toughest to shop for. I know. I get the same complaints every year from my family about how I'm hard to shop for.

Listen. It's not that hard. If it's in some way sports-related, I'll find a way to use it! Hockey sticks make great backscratchers.

I don't think I'm alone in my ambivalence. So don't sweat it.

In any event, here's a list of some interesting items for the sports geeks in your family - or for you, while you're out shopping:

The peninsula is filled with hiking, biking and paddling experiences, snow fun (when we get it) at Hurricane Ridge and much more. Tickets to the ridge are a nice gift or package an annual pass to our national parks with snowshoe rentals at Brown's Outdoor for a neat wintertime/anytime combo gift. Park passes are $15 for a day and $30 for the year. You do the math.

Or, look for kayaking/canoeing/biking experiences through places such as Adventures Through Kayaking (417-3015), Olympic Raft & Kayak (452-1443) or Sound Bikes & Kayaks (457-1240).

Sequim Baseball (683-3357) has batting cages for baseball and softball players, plus an indoor hitting league and much more. The club is hurting right now and opportunities to swing away may be going away sometime soon. Membership rates are better than reasonable and give you or the kids plenty to do in these damp, Washington winter months.

Of course, good sportsmen and women should enjoy a little workout here or there, so look for good gift opportunities with punch-ticket passes at Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (683-3344) or monthly memberships to Sequim Gym (681-2555) or Anytime Fitness (683-4110).

A few books have come across my desk that sports nuts should enjoy. For hunters in the family, try "Blacktail Legends of the Pacific Northwest" ($29.95), published by Northwest Big Game, Inc. The company has been collecting stories, photos and entries for 10 years to publish this tome. Full-bleed color photos (pun intended), historic big game captures from California to Washington and well-penned feature stories may be the perfect gift for your hardcore hunting fan.

Smitty Parratt's "Gods & Goblins: A Field Guide to Place Names of Olympic National Park," is a great read for local hikers and outdoorsmen. The newest edition of this book ($21.95) is packed with detailed history behind the names of such park landmarks as Storm King, The Brothers, Klahhane Ridge and Chicken-Eater Hill.

For those who want a more cerebral look at the Olympic Peninsula and the park's geological history, pick up "Olympic National Park: A Natural History" ($24.95). Tim McNulty's broad-sweeping exploration into how the Olympics were formed, the impact of ice age after ice age and the resulting geologic oddities we see today, is enough to keep readers of almost any age or interest level engaged.

These books can be ordered online, but if you can, try to stay local. Give Marti down at Pacific Mist Books (683-1396) a call. If she doesn't have the books on hand, chances are she can order 'em up for you.

Hot off the shelves

Some new products I've seen out there might interest your sports fan. Runners should like the Nike+ SportBand ($59). The band tracks distance, pace, time and calories burned while you run or walk. It also connects you to, what Nike calls the world's largest running club, where you can log and review runs, get training advice, challenge friends and more. The SportBand saves up to 30 hours worth of workouts for review.

For video gamers, check out Wii or Playstation versions of "Grand Slam Tennis," "Madden 10 (football)," "Tony Hawk: RIDE," "Pro Evolution Soccer 2010" or (my personal favorite) "Backyard Football '10."

Backyard Football '10 features (get this) NFL players as youths, combining realistic NFL plays and strategies with an arcade style and goofy scenarios so that gamers of all ages learn the fundamentals of football while having fun.

Sega just released "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games." If you've even wondered what it would look like to strap Luigi to a luge and let him go, well, here's your chance.

For the sports fan with - how shall I say/write - "expensive" tastes, try a Thule rack with snowboard attachment (

And for a neat stocking stuffer, try the Nike RED shoelaces. One, they're $4. Two, they look cool on nearly any sneaker. Three, 100 percent of the profits go to fight AIDS in Africa. Call that a win-win-win for you and your gift recipient.

Happy shopping.

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