If you enjoy the camaraderie and challenge of playing team sports, but your varsity days are behind you, fear not. Athleticism has no age limit on Long Island.
Weeknights after work, jocks of all trades are mixing it up with their peers in the rink and on the field with adult sports leagues. Take your pick: Soccer, lacrosse, flag football and field, roller and dek hockey are all options. Get exercise without coping with the monotony of a treadmill.
"A lot of people have a real competitive spirit that you don't get a chance to use in any other arena but athletics," says Mark Newfield, owner of Coastal Sports in Hauppauge. "They come here to blow off some steam. It's one of the highlights of their week."
There's no time for coaching or practices; players simply arrive, assemble and get in the game. "We have games at 8, 9, 10 and 11 p.m.," says Adam Dichter, manager-owner of The Sports Arena in St. James. "Guys come home from work, see their families, eat some dinner, then come out here to play."
Most leagues are geared for men, 20s through 50s, but competitive women are welcome to join the adult soccer league at Coastal Sports while more recreational female players can partake in a soccer moms league. The Sports Arena also offers dek and field hockey for ladies.
Seasons typically run 10 weeks, followed by the playoffs and a championship game. Costs can range from $100 to $150 a person for each season. Teams (10 to 15 players) often sign up as a group, but some places take singles and put them on a team. The facility provides referees, balls or pucks and the field or rink, while players bring their own equipment.
Concerned about your ability? No worries. Skill levels vary by division. "We have leagues that are more serious for players that are competitive at a high level and other leagues where it's just guys trying to have fun," says John Ondrush, general manager-partner at the Long Island Sports Hub in Syosset.
Smithtown resident Kenny Watson has been playing soccer since he was 5. He recently recruited his high school buddies to join a new team called Used to Be Good at Coastal Sports.
The late games can be tough, admits Watson, 31, who works in construction and has to be up early, but he loves it. "Any chance I get to play with my friends, I go for it," he says. "The next morning, you just have to take it slow and get a big cup of coffee."
GRAB A FLAG
John Fennell of Nesconset works in a bank by day and plays flag football at The Sports Arena two nights a week.
"After sitting behind a desk all day, it's good to be out running around," says Fennell, 43. "I feel better at work the next day because I got some exercise instead of sitting on the couch, watching TV."
His wife and three sons cheer him on from the sidelines as he quarterbacks for his team, the Bulldogs.
"We never miss a game," says Joanna, 38. "It's only an hour, so it doesn't take away from family time that much. Plus, he's met a lot of great people in the process."
HIT THE DEK
One of the most popular adult sports leagues on Long Island is dek hockey at The Sports Arena, where 50 teams compete every week.
Paul Holmes of Port Jefferson describes himself as a "late bloomer" because he never played organized sports until he was in his late 30s. Now, he's 51 with 14 years of dek hockey under his belt, including eight championships playing goalie for the Rink Rats.
"I enjoy the pressure. There's nothing like being between the pipes," says Holmes, an engineer. "I arrange my life around this. I don't want to miss a game."
WHERE TO SIGN UP
114 Parkway Dr. S., Hauppauge, 631-813-1599, coastalsports.com
SPORTS OFFERE D: Basketball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football
620 Middle Country Rd., St. James, 631-361-9288, thesportsarena.net
SPORTS OFFERED: Roller, field and dek hockey; soccer; flag football
Long Island Sports Hub
165 Eileen Way, Syosset, 516-364-4000, lisportshub.com
SPORTS OFFERED: Flag football, lacrosse