The real breakout star of Palace’s season has been Kayla, the bald eagle that soars through Selhurst Park during the Premier League’s most American pre-game show. And in this edition of Men in Blazers‘ Three Questions, we speak with Kayla’s trainer, Chris Belsey of Eagle Heights, “one of the UK’s largest bird of prey centers.”
MiB: Explain how Crystal Palace came to associate itself with Bald Eagles? Is Kayla the first?
Chris: Crystal Palace were about to go into administration and they contacted us to ask if there was anything we could do with any of our Eagles. So we went along with two Bald Eagles (Kayla and Alaska). Alaska wasn’t as comfortable as Kayla flying in the stadium, but Kayla loved flying up and down the pitch and got the job! She has been their mascot ever since! She is the first live mascot Crystal Palace has ever had!
MiB: When Palace play at home, walk us through Kayla’s day.
Chris: Kayla sits in the passenger seat on a perch in our van as she likes to see where she is going. Kayla is not too keen on going in the travel box! When we arrive at the grounds, we get Kayla out and we put the blue and red ribbons on her anklets and a transmitter so she is ready to fly! We then grab the bag of food and glove and we go off to mingle with the fans before the match for about an hour. The fans love her and many pictures are taken with her! Just before the game and the cheerleaders begin to dance, Rob goes to the upper tier at the Holmesdale end of the stadium and Kayla flies to the other end of the pitch where I am waiting for her. She then flies around the stadium and thrives on the cheers from the crowds! The only obstacle is the sprinklers which to Kayla are the worst thing ever! Kayla also flies at half time!
MiB: Give us your very best Kayla story from Selhurst Park.
Chris: The funniest story was when Kayla decided she didn’t want her food and that a fan’s sandwich looked a lot tastier. After munching the sandwich, feeling rather full, she waddled back to me and decided no more flying for the day! She decided walking up and down the pitch was all she could do after her free lunch!
MiB: Aside from Palace games, where else does Kayla perform?
Chris: Kayla also performs up at Eagle Heights, in schools and at county fairs all over the country, and has even done some film work and appeared in the film “Clash of the Titans” and also on the Kings of Leon album cover.
Three Questions is a regular feature in Men in Blazers’ newsletter, The Raven, powered by Guinness. You can subscribe HERE.
Shibutani siblings elected to U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Olympic ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani along with Paul E. George, who served as the director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, were elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
The trio will be inducted Jan. 28 during the U.S. figure skating championships in San Jose, California.
The Shibutani siblings were two-time Olympians who won a pair of bronze medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games before stepping away from the sport in their prime. They also were three-time world medalists, earned medals at each of their 14 national championships and were two-time senior U.S. champions.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who is three years older than his sister, became the first U.S. ice dancers to medal at the world debut in 2011, and the second-youngest team to medal at worlds. She was 16 and he was 19 at the time.
George was the Chef de Mission of the U.S. delegation to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The longtime member of the Skating Club of Boston, George also was director of the U.S. Figure Skating Association in the late 1980s and early ’90s and later served as president and trustee of the U.S. Figure Skating Foundation.
Father’s Day Gifts 2022: Best ideas for the Sports Fan Dad from Golf to Electronics
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Father’s Day is just days away and as the thinking goes, the Dads of the family are often the hardest to shop for. But with the weather getting warmer, there’s countless opportunities to get outside, whether for sports or relaxation, and that means countless opportunities to find the perfect gift to make Father’s Day brighter for the Dads who love sports in any and all forms.
To help you in the gift selection process (even if you’ve left it up to the last minute!), the team at NBC Sports has sourced great options from across the internet for sporting Dads of all kinds. Whether the person you’re shopping for is up before dawn to get in a workout, more inclined to take in sports from the couch, or the consummate host planning summer’s best tailgate, there’s a great choice on this list across a variety of price ranges. Below are our ideas separated into categories:
This experience is a must for any dad looking to elevate their game. Per the PGA Tour Super Store site, fittings combine “game-changing technology and manufacturer-specific equipment with the personal attention of our certified fitters to deliver a fully immersive fitting session.” Golfers will leave the one-on-one session with specs for perfectly fitted custom clubs that will be built and shipped to you.
Help Dad perfect his golf skills right at home with this practice golf net. Just like the pop-up chipping net, this gift option is lightweight and portable and will allow Dad to hit golf balls right in the backyard.
This bag is lightweight with multiple pockets and perfect for the Dad trying to fit in a workout. It’s available in multiple colors, has waterproof storage for swim gear or sweaty apparel post-gym and doubles as the perfect bag for a quick weekend trip.
Whether it’s for early morning workouts or coaching the 8am Little League game on Saturday morning, a Yeti mug is a great accessory to keep coffee piping hot. Tumblers come in various shapes and sizes to indulge all varieties of pre-game caffeine habits.
The weather is getting warmer, making it the perfect time to give your Dad these comfortable and colorful shoes for the road. The shoes have a quick drying mesh material that will provide the ultimate in efficiency and comfort.
Invented in 1965 and combining elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong, pickleball is the latest rec sport sensation sweeping the nation. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, it’s one of America’s fastest growing sports, picking up corporate sponsorships and avid enthusiasts nationwide. If Dad is a paddle sport enthusiast looking to indulge their competitive streak, this paddle set is the perfect way to get started.
Garmin is one of the most trusted names in GPS watches and enables you to monitor and track your fitness endeavors while streamlining your training. Whether it’s for the Dad training for their 10th marathon or just getting started in running and biking, a Garmin Forerunner is a great option to level-up your exercise.
This 28-piece set of BBQ accessories is the perfect gift for a Dad that loves to cook for everyone. This versatile set has everything you need: a spatula, fork, 2 barbecue mats, tongs, basting brush, grill brush, extra brush head, meat thermometer, 2 steak knives and forks, 2 shakers, 8 corn holders, 4 skewers and an aluminum case.
The Meater is the perfect kitchen gadget for a Dad who loves to cook meat-forward meals for a big group. It’s a smart thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature of the meat you’re cooking up to 33 feet away from the grill, oven or rotisserie. Just download the free app and you’re all set!
This cooler has a capacity of 52 quarts and is the perfect option to keep the drinks cold and the tailgate guests happy. Available in multiple colors, it’s a heavy-duty option for all pregame festivity needs.
This cell phone armband case is perfect for any Dad who likes to go on walks or runs outside. His phone will stay secure and safe, and the case comes with an adjustable strap, key pocket and headphone cord holder.
Give your Dad the gift of Amazon Prime! Not only will he get access to Prime Video which will allow him to live stream his favorite sports, but he can enjoy the convenience of a fast and free delivery for online orders.
Make it feel as if your Dad is actually watching the game from the stadium of his favorite sports team. This TV Soundbar speaker will give your Dad a natural HiFi sound experience — perfect for NFL Sundays and also for family movie nights.
Have Dad keep track of his health and fitness, and get notifications from all of his favorite sports teams with the flick of a wrist. The Apple Watch is the perfect gift for the Dads who are constantly on the go.
The Theragun is the perfect gift for the fitness loving father figure in your life. It’s compact with long lasting battery life and best of all, you can connect it to your smartphone and customize its features.
Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat” is the true story of the American rowing team that competed at the 1936 Olympics and came away with a stunning gold. Made up of largely working-class athletes from the University of Washington, the U.S. team were some of the ultimate underdogs, making for an incredible story of human achievement.
Jackie Robinson is one of the most legendary and trailblazing figures in baseball, but his autobiography talks about so much more than his career on the field. From his time in the army to his family life to his involvement in American politics, “I Never Had It Made” gives the reader an in-depth look into one of the most famous athletes in baseball and in American history.
Get the baseball ban fan in your life a mug so unique that everyone will ask him about it! This mug was handcrafted from a wooden baseball bat barrel and you can choose a design for any MLB team. Choose Dad’s favorite team and he’ll be sure to love it!
With all the blockbuster NFL trades so far in 2022, your Dad’s favorite player might be starting the season for a different team. The safest bet? A custom jersey with his name – QB1 might have left, but his loyalty to the team isn’t going anywhere, for better or worse!