Washington Post, April 2003
Spring is finally here, and after the winter Washington, D.C.-area residents just endured, everyone is anxious to get outside, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise along the way. However, once you get that initial taste of the outdoors, how do you sustain the momentum and not fall back in the easy pattern of a sedentary lifestyle? Simply, choose your favorite sport and join others with the same interest in one of the hundreds of sports leagues and clubs in the area.
“The other members in my club, as well as the log books we keep, are a constant reminder for me to exercise,” says Tom Bauerwald, an active participant in the Washington, D.C. Area Volksmarching Club (WDCAVC). The local walking club is a chapter of the American Volkssport Association (www.ava.org), a national network of 350 walking clubs in all 50 states that originated in Germany and is a popular, non-competitive club.
“Volksmarching provides an opportunity for individuals or groups to explore our city in a fun environment,” says Bauerwald, who adds that he has logged over 7,700 kilometers (about 4,784 miles) since he joined five years ago. “The club promotes fitness, fun and fellowship. It’s a great way to meet friendly people, discover your city in a safe environment and participate in a great aerobic activity. Plus, the walks are either free or require a small donation of $3. Where else can you find an organized exercise activity for $3 or less?”
The AVA coordinates Tuesday night walks in Alexandria that consist of 10K (6.2 miles) trails with shorter 5K (3.1 miles) or 6K (3.8 miles) options along residential sidewalks and park trails and are an excellent way to enjoy beautiful scenery. Additionally, the AVA has a year-round Monuments Walk in Washington, D.C. Participants meet at the Columbia Plaza Apartments reception desk, 2400 Virginia Ave., N.W., to pick up a packet of instructions. There are two trails that pass by the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the FDR Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building and the White House.
If you’re looking for something besides walking to get involved in, check out some of these area clubs:
The DC Road Runners (www.dcroadrunners.org) provides a year-round schedule of running events for all runners, regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. Members enjoy discounts from several area athletic stores, as well as fee waivers for many local races.
The Washington Running Club (www.washrun.org) boasts over 100 runners, who enjoy running together and socializing as a club. The WRC meets in Georgetown for weekly racing.
Montgomery Soccer (www.msisoccer.org) provides recreational services on several soccer levels for 15,000 Montgomery County youth. MSI provides a fall and spring league for soccer enthusiasts, regardless of age, location or physical ability. MSI offers a Recreation Program for players in grades 1-12 where every player is guaranteed playing time in a fun environment; a more competitive Classic Program in two age groups — under 11 and under 19 — where players must try out for teams; and a Premier Program for the most advanced players who travel locally and nationally to compete. MSI also sponsors programs for disabled youth in Montgomery County.
The Washington Area Girls Soccer League (www.wagsl.com) fields many teams in the area, including Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, Columbia, Fairfax, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. The league has a spring and summer league.
For those serious soccer players, Washington’s professional soccer team, DC United, also has a youth league (www.dcunitedyouth.com). Twelve boys and girls teams in different age groups compete in the United Soccer League’s Super Y League.
The Capital Tennis Association (www.capitaltennis.org) is a non-for-profit organization that provides casual and organized tennis programs for tennis enthusiasts to compete in, as well as social activities for its members. Although CTA was formed to promote tennis in the gay and lesbian community, the leagues and tournaments are open to any tennis player interested in playing tennis in a gay-friendly environment. A singles and doubles league is conducted in the summer and winter with members competing against players with similar skill levels.
The Neighborhood Athletic Association (www.recleagues.com) coordinates league flag football play in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia and provides all scheduling, equipment, team jerseys, t-shirts, referees and awards for its member teams. Players of all races and genders participate in a friendly environment with both indoor and outdoor leagues offered.
A more casual flag football “league” plays each Sunday at the Mall in Washington, D.C. What started as a group of four or five individuals who compiled an e-mail list of potential players has grown to a list of 50 players, says Charlie Salem, a government attorney who has played for the past four years. “We have some regulars who are there without fail — rain, snow or ice — and then some who show up once or twice a month,” Salem says. “I like the friendly competition, spending time with my friends and being outside, especially in the winter when you're trapped inside quite a bit.”
The Fairfax Fastpitch League for Women’s Softball (www.fxfastpitch.com) was organized for women over the age of 19 of all skill levels. Games are played at night on lighted fields in Fairfax County. Players interested in joining a team can fill out an online form from the Web site.
Through the Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services, Fairfax Adult Softball (www.fairfaxadultsoftball.com) offers three seasons of play and several leagues for interested players. Softball is played in several leagues, including men’s, men’s masters, women’s, women’s masters, co-ed, corporate co-ed and seniors.
The Washington Area Roadskaters (www.skatedc.org) is one of the oldest in-line skate clubs on the east coast and is composed of members who share a love for in-line skating. WAR offers four free group skates each week in various skill levels and sponsors a free weekly clinic each Saturday at Rock Creek Park, according to club member Eryx Malcolm. All skates and clinics are open to the public, not just WAR members. The group skates include a Friday Night Beginner Skate, Sunday Intermediate Skate, Wednesday Night Advanced Skate and Sunday Advanced Skate. All skates originate in front of the White House. “We enjoy each other’s company and use the streets of Washington, D.C. as our amusement park,” says Malcolm.
The Washington Area Bicyclists Association (www.waba.org) provides countless trails; races; links to area recreational riding, mountain biking, racing and trail clubs; and information on local charity races, such as the Tour de Friends AIDS ride. The WABA is also an advocacy group for cyclists and offers a commuter mentoring program.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., (www.ymcawashdc.org) has 16 branches in the area that provide an array of adult and youth clubs, leagues and lessons for many sports, including soccer, baseball, racquetball, flag football and tennis.