It can be argued that trends take a tad bit longer to reach us here on the Eastern Shore. Nonetheless, they do reach us and when they do, we tackle them with a vengeance. Such is the case with social sports clubs, which have been providing countless hours of active, socially motivated fun in cities like Baltimore, D.C. and New York City for years and are about to make their debut splash in Salisbury this fall. Before you chime in with, ‘but there are plenty of adults sports leagues on Delmarva,’ stop and consider what those sports leagues would look like with an extra dose of friendly fun, partnerships with local businesses for food and drink specials, and networking opportunities for young professionals. ‘Sports with a social edge’ is how we would best describe it, but we’ll let organizers Blair Carey and Chris Van Sant tell the story…
“We really want to give people something active to do around here, especially in the fall,” Carey said when we sat down with him and Van Sant this week to learn more about the budding Salisbury Social Sports Club (SSSC). “It’s also a lot of networking while being social and having fun,” added Van Sant. Both have been active in local county sports leagues, but Carey noted that the idea was actually born after participating in social sports clubs in Baltimore. The key word is ‘social’ with a heavy emphasis on socially-oriented sports rather than competitively-motived play. Sports will also be co-ed, requiring both male and female participation including rules outlining ‘gender plays’ to deter the men or women from dominating any particular game or sport. “We’re going for that really friendly vibe,” said Carey.
For its first year, SSSC will feature two sports, kickball and flag football, with definite plans to expand to more sports in the future. For now, Carey and Van Sant are making sure the details are solidified and that the interest is there. Although when Van Sant mentioned bubble soccer as a viable option for the future, we were definitely intrigued (seriously, Google it). Currently, the target location for all SSSC games is a large chunk of land in the industrial section of Salisbury by the Pepsi plant, which will allow for ample space for future tournaments and all-day events.
Another crucial aspect of the social sports club scene is the inclusion of local businesses. Basically the idea is to partner with local businesses to provide a fun place for participants to hang out and socialize after the game, while also providing an added boost of business for local bars and restaurants. Sort of a win-win if you ask us. Participating restaurants will offer exclusive deals and specials for players’ post game time while teams get the chance to mingle, meet new friends, network and let loose after a fun afternoon or evening on the field. The idea is to encourage participants to attend a variety of establishments as well, designating different bars or restaurants each week.
Networking is a major component as well, as the target audience is 21 and up. Carey and Van Sant noted that the hope is to involve college seniors in an effort to bridge the gap between college students and young professionals in Salisbury. In effect, this could also provide a stress-free environment for college students to meet area professionals and network for job opportunities. Of course, the underlying goal is to keep more young professionals in Salisbury so sounds like another win-win to us!
The sky is seemingly the limit at SSSC, with plans and scheming already in the works for future endeavors such as more sports, group outings, and weekend events. For example, group trips to an Orioles game in Baltimore or to the annual Polar Bear Swim in Ocean City. Weekend events could also include corporate Olympics or charity tournaments. “Sports will fuel it, but we are focusing on the social aspect,” said Carey.
Of course, the Salisbury area is not the only target, with enough growth and momentum, the plan is to branch out to neighboring towns and counties. Perhaps even town vs. town showdowns?! Sorry, we can’t help but be a little competitive.
And adults aren’t the only ones SSSC is hoping to benefit, Carey and Van Sant are also angling for a youth flag football league as a way to introduce kids to football without the excessive contact that comes along with it. “We would like to give them a a way to learn the game before putting on the equipment,” explained Van Sant.
With the planning stages well underway for the SSSC and with fall just a few months away, be sure to stay tuned for updates from us and the SSSC on the upcoming season, including when signups start.