by Stephanie Malek
I feel like I spend a lot of time lately (both in-person and on this blog) pining for other seasons. Torontonians are great at hating the season they are in. Instead of hating on winter, which is the opposite of the point of this blog, I'm going to turn my sights back to summer, and to drinks with buds, a light workout, and team spirit! Today's blog is all about my summer love affair with playing sports in Toronto!
I'll be straight with you: generally I don't exercise beyond what getting to and from places forces me to do (and the occasional planks after too many Loads of Ketchup chips). I have to trick myself into exercise with things like dance classes and commuting on my bike. This is why I absolutely LOVE summer outdoor sports leagues! It's the perfect amount of social interaction (I'm always better at socializing when there is a task at hand) and telling myself I am exercising!
Each summer, I am on two softball leagues (the Royal Canadian Baseball Association and the Toronto Comedy Softball League) and used to do volleyball through the Toronto Sport and Social Club and as it nears May I always get that excited, giddy feeling in my tummy.
I started playing summer softball with an old boss who would shut down the restaurant we worked in early on Wednesdays so we could go play. I used to play as a kid and always liked it, despite my absolute terror of being hit in the leg with a softball (just thinking about it makes me cringe ... uuuuughbarf). Though my boss didn't last long on the team, that was 11 years ago and I'm still going!
Then a couple of years ago, when I started taking classes with Bad Dog, I overheard that they had a softball team and needed players. I couldn't wait to get started - my Wednesday team is primarily men between the ages of 40-60 so the chance to play with people my own age was VERY enticing.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of hanging out at a park on a summer afternoon, or evening, and having some laughs while also participating in an activity together. You go through things together, be it injuries on the team, or filling in a weird hole in the field, or learning how to bat, and those things bring you closer together!
This past year I was the coach of the Bad Dog softball team and it was a blast getting to see players improve over the course of the summer, seeing people have fun, and believing in themselves (my coach motto is basically "Believe in yourself and follow your dreams!" which I realize isn't altogether helpful for sports but hopefully generally motivating and not just super annoying when I yell it from first base). Group sports also leads to making closer bonds with friends and also drinking more than is probably good for you (Caesars at Three Speed, I can't shake you!)
For those who like a variety of sports (and not just softball), I can't recommend TSSC enough. They have social and more competitive leagues for all sorts of sports, and its a great way to meet people and have fun! Our team was called Spike Club and we were a 6 person coed beach volleyball team! I can't begin to tell you the joy of playing beach volleyball on a warm summer night (I can tell you the pain of beach volleyball on a hot summer day though - MY POOR FEET SO MANY BURNS OWWWW).
The sweet sounds of Drake blaring over the PA at the Docks as you dive into the sand is an amazing feeling, and much more physically challenging than softball. I had to stop because I just got too busy (cause of improv) and had no money (cause I spent it all on improv) but just looking at these photos has made me super nostalgic for volleyball! Maybe I will have to join a team again! Anyone want to play volleyball?
What's your favourite sport to play?