Young professionals are leaving the office at the end of the work day and running to the playing field to stay fit and socialize.
One company, Play Hard Play Social Club Sports, offers adults the same opportunity children have – to play one of their favorite sports on a weekly basis in an organized league.
Play Club Sports offers flag football, basketball, kickball, soccer, softball, inner-tube water polo. For many, it’s a chance for some exercise and new acquaintances.
Players can join as a team or free agent. Included in the fees paid are equipment, shirts and the use of play areas.
Co-ed flag football is the game of choice Wednesday nights at Armbrister Park in Coconut Grove, where women play a key role.
Mindy Arocha, 31, of Miami, has been playing with the league for about three years alongside her fiancé, Nelson Fernandez. They joined together.
“It was something different to do,” Arocha said. “There weren’t a lot of leagues around like this.”
Arocha, a paralegal, looks forward to the excitement at the end of a long day at the office.
“I’m kind of a football freak,” she said. “It’s competitive and it feeds that competitive side of me.”
When she is not playing flag football, Arocha plays on a softball league and hits the gym. Before joining the league, she never picked up a football in an organized game.
“I’ve always been athletic so I guess it comes naturally,” she said.
Arocha, like many other women, have some advantages over their male counterparts. Women on the team get two additional points when they score a touchdown and then have a chance at two extra points.
The league also requires that there be two female players on the field at all times, a rule that encourages the men to pass the ball to the women.
Targeting adults ages 21 to 40, the club offers social events that include beer and wine tastings and trips to Marlins, Dolphins or Heat games.
“We’re always trying to add new people to the teams so that the game doesn’t get old,” said Jeff Brown, sports director for Play Club Sports.
Carlos Gutierrez, 29, of Hialeah, has been playing with the same football league for about two years.
“I love sports, but you just can’t get a pickup game going these days,” Gutierrez said. “Everybody’s so busy, so you have to join a league.”
Gutierrez, a stock trader by day, used to play in a softball league and enjoys the casual basketball game.
“I have always loved competition. Why stop now, as long as my knees still work,” he said.
William Steel, 35, a manager at a honey-packing company, joined the basketball league to get some exercise.
He said he enjoys the structure the club provides through referees, scoreboards and team assignments.
“You don’t get this kind of experience when you just go with a bunch of your friends to an open court at the LA fitness,” Steel said. “It helps to have the referees when a fight breaks out, which can happen a lot.”
But for some, playing team sports is a way to de-stress.
Eilina Wittels, 23, a third-grade teacher in Liberty City, is part of a kickball team and is more focused on having a good laugh than winning.
“It’s a great way to just let off some steam,” Wittels said. “And because it’s kickball, it’s a fun way to grab a hold of your childhood again.”