Making Sport Social: Fun and Fitness Combine for Local Clubs
Think dodgeball or kickball is just a distant grade school memory?
For some adults in West Michigan, participating in these throwback sports is a great way to blow off steam and expand their real-life social networks.
The Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club formed in 2009, inspired in part by the movie Dodgeball.
“It kind of brought this rebirth of playground sports, especially for adults, back,” said Ace Covey, Director of Sports Leagues.
The organization offers a variety of group recreation opportunities, from 3-on-3 basketball leagues to broomball, with socializing time built in after at local mom-and-pop watering holes. Covey said their recess-inspired sports, such as dodgeball, fill up fast.
“Everyone still wants to be a big kid,” he said.
The group is popular enough that they now also operate a similar club in Kalamazoo, one of about 75 partner clubs throughout the country. Participants have to be at least 21 and Covey said the average age is late 20s to early 30s, although some retirees also take part.
It’s a great way to make new friends and network, while working up a sweat in the process, Covey said. The company partners with local employers such as Chemical Bank, Dematic, Rockford Construction and Wolverine Worldwide, who are able to offer additional recreation opportunities for their employees through the club.
Working out with your co-workers can break down barriers in the office, Covey explained. Having a connection outside of work can help foster conversation with colleagues and boost workplace morale.
“With the sport and social club, it really becomes a barrier-free zone. Everyone’s showing up for one common purpose,” he said. “We make it super easy for people to open up and be social.”
Alex Merz, 24, and Heath Biller, 28, have both been a member of the club for three years. Merz played sports in high school and college and missed being on a team.
“I really missed the whole organized sports competition of things,” she said.
For Biller, the bar scene doesn’t appeal to him, so the club is a way to meet like-minded people.
“It’s something to do without going to the bar,” he said.
Both say it’s opened them up to new parts of town, new friends and new experiences.
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Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club