Jacob Witkowski's reminded of his Polish ancestry every time he steps onto the soccer field. As the manager of Polonia in the Lake Erie Soccer League, the 27-year-old goalkeeper estimates half of his 20-member team was born in Poland. "It's always nice when a player is from that background," says Witkowski, an ex-pro goalie with the Cincinnati Riverhawks. "They feel much more connected to it." The league's 25 teams make up a global melting pot. From Albania to Serbia, they play every Sunday from September to November and from April to July, when the top six teams go to the league tournament. And they're always scouting for new players. "The best way to determine if you can fit into our team is to come to practice and give it a go." Games start at 3, 4, 5, 6, and 6:45 p.m. at various fields throughout Northeast Ohio. Admission is free. Visit www.lesl-soccer.com for a complete schedule. -- Cris Glaser
Gulls Gone Wild
Armed with binoculars and a camera, Ann Brandt looks north for her first sign of autumn. At the Great Black-Backed Gull Watch and Greeting Party, Brandt and other gull groupies wait for the white birds with their black backs, pink legs, and dotted yellow beaks. The largest of all gull breeds, the notoriously monogamous birds fly from eastern Canada to Vermilion every September. "When you see them in pairs, you think how majestic they are," Brandt says. "They're breathtaking." They're also bullies. They pig out on small mammals, baby chicks, and other gulls' eggs. If they can't find enough to eat, they trumpet a warning call before scarfing food from smaller seabirds. "That's their dark side," sighs Brandt. "Then again, no one's perfect." Action runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Main Street Observation Deck (on State Route 60 in Vermilion). Admission is free; call 440-967-4262. -- Cris Glaser
Browns Around Town
Tickets are scarce for the Browns' season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but fans can still get their bark on at a number of places around town. Start at the Hard Rock Café (230 West Huron Road; 216-830-7625) to discuss pre-game action with "Big Sports Kahuna" Kendall Lewis and nosh on brunch before the 1 p.m. kickoff. Then head to Harpos (19654 West 130th Street in Strongsville; 440-846-7777), which will give out prizes at halftime. Finally, end up at the Fox and Hound (1479 SOM Center Road in Mayfield Heights; 440-646-9078), where $2 pints will fuel the celebratin. -- Matt Leavitt
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