Dayton Upfront

 Dayton Upfront

Catching up with former UD player Keith Waleskowski, what’s new at our local waterparks, and a look inside this year’s Country concert.

There’s No Place Like Home
This former UD star has found a life after basketball that includes, of course, his beloved Flyers.
By Tracy Staley

Former University of Dayton player Keith Waleskowski is a Flyers fan favorite.

It’s easy to see why. After graduating from Archbishop Alter High School in 1999, he joined the Flyers as a red shirt, non-scholarship freshman. He would go on to climb the Flyer record books: 19th in career scoring (1,515), fifth in games played (129), second in offensive rebounds (371), sixth in rebounding (1,092), seventh in minutes played (3,807), eighth in free throw percentage and eighth in blocked shots.

After graduating from UD in 2004, Waleskowski played on professional teams in Spain, Italy and Germany. His wife, former UD women’s basketball player Krissy Donovan and their three children would join him for periods of time, but the time they spent apart took its toll.

“It got really, really hard to leave,” he says. “I struggled with the paradox of needing to be a good father and provide for my family, and [also] wanting to be present in their lives.”

So Waleskowski started to make some forays into a life outside of basketball. Through a friend, he wound up with an interview at Cintas, where he was hired as production manager and has been promoted into service management.

“I worried how [this new path] would start and how it would continue,” he says. “I never worried about missing basketball.”

These days, he wears a suit and tie. Aside from coaching his seven-year-old son’s basketball team, he doesn’t spend much time on the court.

He now focuses on “hard work, paying attention to the little things [and] doing what I’m told,” he says. “I know I have to pay my dues. I approach each day that way.”

Returning to southwest Ohio has given Waleskowski a chance to connect with Flyer fans. This year, with UD making a run to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament, Waleskowski was here to watch the ride. He traveled to the games in Memphis, soaking up the joy of UD pride. He’s optimistic about next season, with so many players returning for another season under Coach Archie Miller.

“The fans have been waiting for something like this to happen,” he says. ”I really hope they are able to continue.”

Last season, he’s co-hosted the Flyer Feedback radio show after several home games, a gig he hopes to continue next season.

John Bedell, host of Flyer Feedback, says the fans love getting a chance to talk with Waleskowski. He’s approachable, fun and humble. He’s one of the most solid co-hosts the show has had in years, he says.

“I was ecstatic,” Bedell says about the opportunity to work with Waleskowski. “Keith’s a legend.”

This year, UD inducted him into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s tremendous to even have my name mentioned in the same sentence, let alone be in the Hall of Fame, with the players throughout Flyer history,” he says.

Waleskowski doesn’t have any aspirations to coach beyond his children’s teams. His son has already taken a liking to sports, and he’s holding out hope that his two daughters will, too. But like his own parents, he doesn’t plan to push it.

For Waleskowski, basketball provided a memorable and financially sound career. But now, it’s good to be home. 

A Big Country Party Right Here in the Heartland
This year’s Country Concert brings in the hit-makers.
By Nick Hannah

If you live in Ohio and are a fan of country music, odds are that you already have July 10-12 marked on your calendar. That’s when the genre’s biggest stars gather in Fort Loramie for the 2014 Country Concert at Hickory Hill Lakes.

The festival, which has grown into one of the biggest summer events in the state, began as a small gathering of family and friends of Mike and Mary Jo Barhorst in 1977. In 1981, the concert was opened to the public and drew 6,500 people, but soon grew much larger. With a knack for booking rising country stars, the concert has grown to host upwards of 60,000 people over the weekend and has featured legends such as Garth Brooks.

“We have people who have come here year after year and made lifelong friends with the people they camped next to,” says the concert’s president, Paul Barhorst, one of five of Mike and Mary Jo’s sons involved. “It really becomes a community.”

This year’s lineup features Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and the Florida Georgia Line. Attendees can purchase a single-day admission pass or a three-day pass. You also can buy a camping pass to keep the party going all night long.

“We have continued to invest in our facility to ensure that it remains first class,” says Barhost. “You can find parts of the facility in the general admission that are a little more laidback, or you can find an area that is more like a club atmosphere, where people are standing and having a good time in their own way.”

Country Concert will provide an opportunity for Ohioans to catch the biggest country stars in their own backyard in the middle of the dog days of summer.

Barhorst thinks everyone is excited about Bryan.

“I had a chance to catch his show in January, and his energy and stage presence is just through the roof,” he says. “Miranda Lambert offers another style as one of the most rocking female artists out there.”

In addition to Lambert—the five-time American Country Music female performer of the year—the Country Concert also features up-and-coming artists like Brantley Gilbert.

“He is a guy that is interesting because of the way today’s music is— you don’t have to be on the radio to become a superstar,” Barhorst said. “The first single off his album, Bottom’s Up, became a No. 1 hit with very little airplay.”

So mark your calendars and pack your coolers and camping gear—you may just catch the next Luke Bryan or Garth Brooks at this year’s Country Concert and make some friends in the process. Ticket information is available at CountryConcert.com.


Water World
The region offers great aquatic destinations for those that need to get away.
By Nick hannah

With summertime approaching, many residents will be looking forward to catching some sun and fresh air—and maybe even some waves and water slides—in the area. Locals will be pleased to learn that there are some major attractions in their backyard.

The Beach

The Beach in Mason has been in operation for more than 27 years and is a staple in the Dayton/Cincinnati area for residents of all ages. Sitting on over 35 acres, it features multiple slides, a children’s area, a 600-gallon dumping bucket and a heated wave pool.

The Beach touts the largest “tropical beach” in Ohio with its 750,000-gallon heated wave pool. Adventurous thrill seekers will be drawn to the bigger slides and drops, such as The Cliff, in which riders drop five stories in three seconds. The Kamikaze, the longest slide in the park, sends the rider on a series of twists and turns through the woods and finishes with a 360-degree spiral at the end.

After a one-year hiatus in 2012, The Beach reopened in 2013 under new ownership. Adventure Landings purchased the park in July of 2012 and began a $5 million renovation project that was completed in May 2013.

“We’re putting in two new rides this summer,” says Alexandria Behme, communications supervisor for The Beach. “One is a zipline that is called The Soaring Eagle and the other is a racing mat ride, which we have not settled on a name for yet.” The zipline will be available at the beginning of the summer, and the racing mat ride later in the season.

First-time patrons will be doing double takes when they see the park’s 2,600 tons of white sand and more than 150 palm trees. The Beach features a supervised teen night called Club Splash on Tuesday nights from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Reggae Fun Day every Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. featuring live music.

“We have converted a lot of the park and designated it as a special area for young children, such as Big Creek Beach, that has all sorts of water cannons and toys for young ones to interact with,” says Behme. “Our Little Kahuna Waterworks and the wave pool each have zero-depth entry.”

You might even catch a glimpse of the Cliff Man at the Beach—a man who has been coming to the waterpark every weekend for as long as anyone can remember. He comes to the park every Friday, camps over the weekend and repeatedly rides The Cliff. Cliff Man has perfected the art of riding The Cliff, getting completely airborne as he plunges down the slide.

Kroger Aquatic Center at The Heights

The Kroger Aquatic Center at The Heights is conveniently located on Brandt Pike in Huber Heights and has water attractions for the entire family. The park is open seven days a week beginning Memorial Day weekend. The park’s attractions include a lazy river, zero depth entry points, waterslides, a sprayground, lap pools and more. Day passes and season passes are available for residents and non-residents. For more information call (937) 610-3483.