D.C. at the Bat
It may have snowed all day yesterday, but that isn't preventing some local sports leagues from gearing up for softball season. Deadlines for starting teams are around the corner -- sadly, some have already passed -- so we pulled together a list of coed recreational softball leagues in the area, since this question is often on the minds of Got Plans? readers this time of year.
The snow prevented us from getting in touch with some leagues yesterday, but we'll add more info to this post as we get it. If you know of a great league that isn't on this list, add it to the comments below.
Capital Alumni Network
Basics: Alumni from more than 60 universities and colleges have organized local softball teams to foster networking and social events between alumni groups. Games are played daily (but rarely Sundays) on the National Mall. This year, the league may play some games at Anacostia Park.
Beer: "We're a very social league," says CAN Sports Committee Chair Chris Mauer. Most teams turn up at Foggy Bottom bars for some after-game boozing. McFadden's is the league's official sponsor this year and will offer food and drink discounts to card-carrying players. Mauer estimates that most players are in their late 20s, but the league also has "people in their 50s out there playing ball."
Starting or Joining a Team: Before you go running off to e-mail all of your college buddies, check this list to see if your alumni group already has a team. If your school has a team (or your spouse's school does), join it. If your school doesn't have a team, get the blessing of your local alumni chapter and then send a call for players to local alumni. Mauer suggests rounding up at least 20-25 peope. There is no limit on the number of people who can sign up. Tufts University has the biggest roster in the city, with 85 registered players. The deadline for registration is this Saturday, March 10. There are no upfront fees to play in this league. A two-day league tournament at the end of the season costs $34 per person last year, and that fee covers catering for events and administrative fees like insurance throughout the year.
Basics: Don't let the name initimidate you, this league isn't just for Hill staffers. Now in its 36th year, the league accepts teams from companies, agencies, nonprofits or pretty much any organization or non-organization -- as long as you can pull together at least 10 players willing to pony up $24 in registration fees that pay for insurance, bases, field permits, etc. Games are played on the Mall.
Beer: There are some semi-competitive teams in the league, but most players hit the bars after the games, said Gary Caruso, league commissioner. Many of the teams affiliated with Congress frequent Hill bars like The Pour House or My Brother's Place. Agency teams, on the other hand, stick to bars closer to downtown. Caruso estimates that the teams from the Hill tend to skew younger (in their 20s) and agency teams tend to be in their 30s.
Starting or Joining: Congressional Softball's online registration for teams ends Friday, April 6. In addition to full-time players, teams can also buy flexible slots for part-time players (like interns) who only intend to play some games. Can't round up enough people for a full team? Caruso can put interested players in touch with needy coaches. Contact him at CongSftbl (at) aol (dot) com.
Basics: This relatively new league started with five teams in the fall of 2004. Now 20 teams battle it out on Sundays at West Potomac Park. The league offers both a spring and fall league. The spring league runs from May 13 until August 26.
Beer: "We try to cater to people who are new to the city," said David Sack who started this league not long after he moved to Washington. The league has food and drink specials at Garrett's or Madhatter on Sundays, but players also go out for happy hours during the week.
"It's not like a kickball leagues where the game has absolutely no point," Sack said. "It's a laid-back league and everything, but people are there to play." Sack will organize teams of newcomers based on their preferred positions. He estimates that players are between 24-35.
Starting or Joining: Sack reccomends rounding up a team of at least 15 (10 men and five women) and registering as early as possible through DC CityBall's Web site, even though the registration deadline isn't until April 15. The team fee is $575. Individuals (or groups of two or three friends) can sign up via the Web site as well. Sack will arrange teams based on players' skill level and preferred positions. Individual players pay $75.
Basics: Headfirst organizes sports leagues for both adults and kids. It has three spring/summer seasons, one starting in April, one in May and one in June. The league's 75-80 teams play on the Mall, at Northwest rec centers and somtimes on fields at AU and George Washington.
Beer: This league doesn't organize social events for their players, but Steve Kopelman, who runs Headfirst's softball program, says teams make their way over to the Bottom Line, McFadden's and Town Hall after the game. Most players are between 25-35.
Starting or Joining: Both individuals and teams can sign up using the Headfirst Web site. The fee is $795 for teams and $65 per player for individuals. Deadlines are mid-March for the season beginning in April, and early April and May for the seasons beginning in May and June.
House Softball League
Basics: The House League started in 2006 after a publicized split with the Congressional Softball League. The House Softball League is more hands-off than the other leagues in this list. Team coaches secure playing fields and make up their own schedules by asking to play other teams. The league supplies balls and organizes the end of season tournament. Commissioner Anthony Reed estimates that 80 percent of the teams are affiliated with Congress, and other teams are welcome to join.
Beer: In keeping with the free-for-all spirit, the league doesn't organize happy hour events for the players. Hill bars like Tortilla Coast, Capitol Lounge, Hawk and Dove and the Pour House are common after-game haunts. Reed estimates that players are in their mid- to late-20s.
Starting or Joining: Teams can register through the House Softball League's Web site. Registration is open throughout the season, but teams should try to register before Monday, April 2, when scheduling begins. The fee is $85 per team. Individuals interested in joining a team can post a message on the Free Agent Message Board.
Basics: Up and running for 10 years, this softball league includes 24 teams that play on the Mall and in West Potomac Park Mondays through Wednesdays and eight teams that play in Alexandria on Saturdays. Each team carries about 15 players.
Beer: This league does not organize after-game social events, so teams pick their own watering holes. Bill Goldman, commissioner of the league, estimates that players in the D.C. league are in their 20s and 30s, whereas players in the Virginia league range from 20s through 40s.
Starting or Joining: Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, so Goldman reccommends getting applications in by the end of April at the latest. Teams can register online or print out the form and mail it in with a check for $750, which covers field space, bases, bats, balls, T-shirts, umpires and online stats. Individuals or groups of friends are welcome to register, as well. Registration fees for individuals are $65 per person.
Senate Softball League
Basics: Teams from the private sector are welcome to play alongside Senate-affiliated teams in this league, which usually includes 80 to 90 teams a season. Like House Softball, Senate Softball is loosely structured: Teams line up their own schedules and fields, but they are required to play the teams in their assigned division. The season lasts from May through August.
Beer: The league organizes a manager's party in the beginning of the season so coaches can line up games. The league also sponsors an end-of-season shindig. Head commissioner Sonja Hoover said that teams pick their own after-game bars, but as with most of the Congress-affiliated leagues, Hill bars are popular. Players' ages range from college students to people in their 60s.
Starting or Joining: Download the registration form from the league's Web site and return it by April 18, with a check for $125 per team. The team does not accept individual players.
Basics: This league is made up mostly of groups from law firms and corporations around the area. Run by Larry Washington, the teams play on the National Mall and other fields in Northwest Washington. Teams can select the day of the week (from Monday through Thursday) that they would like to play.
Beer: SportsLeagues doesn't organize after-work events either, but Washington says that a lot of people go to the Exchange or the Bottom Line after games. Most people are in their late 20s or early 30s.
Starting or Joining: After rounding up at least 15 players, the team captain can register online. The fee is $950 and covers fields, bases and umpires. The deadline is March 30. Sorry, free agents; SportsLeagues only works with teams.
While all rec softball is social, the county leagues focus less on after-game beer specials than some of the leagues mentioned above. They also tend to shew a little older, with players in their 30s, as opposed to players in their 20s.
Basics: Alexandria's League can accomodate up to 100 softball teams (including men's, women's and coed). Teams in this league can select the day of the week they prefer to play when they register. Games are usually played on Luckett Field and at Joseph Hensley Park.
Starting or Joining: Request a registration packet from the city's Adult Sports department by calling 703-838-5003. The city recommends having a roster of 15-20 people. The team fee is $350, but the team pays an additional fee of $20 for each non-resident player. The deadline for registering is in the middle of this month. Indivdiuals can call Marvin Elliott at the number above to find teams that need players.
Basics: Arlington County coed leagues play on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays on county fields.
Starting or Joining: The registration deadline for new teams has passed, but individuals can register as free agents by calling the sports department at 703-228-1801 or on the Arlington County registration Web site. Your information will be sent to coaches in need of players, but there's no guarantee that you will be picked up.
D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
Basics: The D.C. Parks and Recreation leagues play Mondays through Thursdays at Guy Mason, Randall Field and West Potomac Park. Teams can select the day of the week and field where they prefer to play. The D.C. league provides umpires.
Starting or Joining: Teams can request a registration packet from the Sports Office by calling 202-698-2250. Fees for a co-ed team are $450. Tamara Jenkins of the Sports Office said the league rarely places individuals on teams.
Basics: Fairfax Adult Softball oversees 550 teams in the county. The league requires that 2/3 of a team's roster be Fairfax county residents or be full-time employees of a company based in Fairfax. This requirement is waived for military personnel. The league plays at park or school fields in Fairfax.
Starting or Joining: The deadline was Feb. 12, but Fairfax is still accepting registrations for new teams. Find information on how to register in the green box on the league's home page. Team fees are $800, but many teams find local businesses to sponsor them. The Join a Team message boards can put individuals in touch with needy coaches.
Prince George's County
Basics: The county-run rec leagues plays on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Starting or Joining: The registration deadline is today, but Dana Sneat in the sports division said yesterday that there won't be a $50 penalty for teams who register soon after this date. Teams made up of Prince George's and Montgomery county residents pay $535; non-resident teams pay $635.
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