Y to begin social sports club

By Joseph Slacian

The Wabash County Social Sports Club will begin later this month at the Wabash County YMCA.

The idea behind the program is to take games many played in their backyard as youngsters and put completely new spins on them.

“This was an idea that, since I’ve moved into town, I’ve been looking for ways to fill a need in the community,” CEO Dean Gogolewski told The Paper of Wabash County. “It’s a population the Y really was community.”

The existing adult sports leagues, he said, were getting a bit too competitive.

“We needed to change that,” Gogolewski continued. “So, in order to change the culture, we needed to change the whole scope of the adult sports landscape.”

The new program also will help to engage some of the community’s young professionals and other working individuals in the community.

“It’s also a fun way to build relationships, build lifelong relationships, and get into healthier activities,” he said.

The social sports club idea is something taking place nationwide, Gogolewski said, but is new to Wabash.

“The social sports club is not professional; it’s not even amateur,” he said. “It’s an extension of backyard sports. You get together with your friends and you play and you laugh, you cheer good plays, you laugh with each other at bad plays. It’s not as strict as a straight up league.”

Keith Gillenwater, President and CEO of Grow Wabash County, said one portion of the club’s policy best sums it up.

“Win or lose,” he said, reading one of the goals, “we all can relax afterward, hang out with friends and still make it to work in the morning.”

Bill Barrows, Director of the Morrett Sports Complex, said that is exactly one of the problems the existing program has.

“And I was one of them,” he said. “I couldn’t go to work the next day, or had trouble doing so.”

The sports club is just a way for people to get together and bond over sports, Gogolewski said.

“And as we see in society, sports transcend so much,” he said. “It’s really a metaphor for life, in most aspects. This is our fun way of bringing it to the Wabash Community and get people engaged in different sports that they might like.”

Two sports – flag football and blitzball – are set to begin next week. Flag football play will begin Sept. 10 at the Field of Dreams, while blitzball – a take on wiffle ball, will begin Sept. 11 in the YMCA gym.

Three-on-three basketball, wallyball and spikeball also are planned in future.

Seasons are expected to last about two months, with leagues planned for fall, and early and late winter.

“One of the things that occurs to me,” Barrows said, “in laying these things out … a lot of these games are backyard games that we invented when we were kids, and someone has taken them to the nth degree.

“Blitzball is a variation of wiffle ball with a little more challenge to it. Spikeball has a lot more challenge to it. Wallyball is basically volleyball using walls as dimensions. It will be done on the racquetball court.

“There’s just a number of different things that are basically backyard games that we would have thought up, or that we did think up, when we were kids.”

Signup is underway for the various leagues and can be done at Non-YMCA members will have to fill out a waiver form. Teams can register, or “free agents,” can also register and be placed on a team by Y officials.

Registration fees vary from sport to sport, and also for Y members and non-members.

Gillenwater said a program such as this will be especially beneficial for millennials as well as those moving to Wabash. It will allow them to get together and build new friendships, as well as work in exercise.

Posted on 2019 Sep 03