By Erika Peters
After graduating college in 2013, Kellie Correira didn’t want to stop playing sports. A friend suggested she join ZogSports, a New York City-based adult social sport league. Correira joined to play soccer and make a few new friends, but actually ended up meeting her now-husband on the team.
ZogSports, where Correira met her match, is set to expand to Long Island. The company will bring a volleyball league to Woodbury starting on June 23. The social sport leagues are a way to make new connections — even a significant other — that’s becoming increasingly more popular.
“Once you graduate college it’s kind of hard to find recreational sporting experiences,” Correira, now product manager at ZogSports, said. “I’ve made a lot of my friends through ZogSports, and a lot of them have actually found their best friend or their spouses through playing, which is another really cool aspect to this.”
The company’s expansion highlights the growing interest among post-college adults in the U.S. and on Long Island in recreational and social sports leagues. The percentage of the U.S. population aged 25 to 54 who play sports increased 15.9 percent in 2013 to 18.5 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data also showed that 2.1 percent more adults in New York played sports in 2009–15 than from 2003–08.
The Sports Arena, a sports and special events center in St. James, also offers adult recreational leagues such as women’s and mens dek hockey, men’s flag football and basketball, and open adult soccer.
“Our numbers have been pretty consistent over the last couple of years,” Kelly Feingold, manager at the Sports Arena said. “A lot of it is because of exercise. People like not going to a standard gym, and it’s a stress reliever.”
Along with The Sports Arena, another competitor in the adult recreational sports league world is LI Kick. LI Kick started as a single kickball league in Glen Cove in 2013, and since have expanded to include soccer, bowling and cornhole leagues, and is currently the largest provider of adult social sports on Long Island. In 2018, nearly 3,000 people played in an LI Kick league, according to owner Sal Farruggia.
“Every year since we’ve started, our numbers have increased,” Farruggia said. “The idea of getting out of the house, being active and having face to face interactions is very appealing to people.”
A way to make new connections and a way to continue to play on a team after college is what draws most people to the leagues, Nicole Peralta, a league manager at LI Kick said. And like Correira, many LI Kick players have found their spouses within the league too.
“We have four kickball babies on the way,” Peralta said.
LI Kick doesn’t offer as many sports as ZogSports currently, such as volleyball, football, and softball, but Farruggia said that the company is looking to add more leagues.
“We hope to add more sports,” he said. “Probably we’d be interested in adding volleyball, basketball, flag football, or skee ball and e-sports, like Mario Kart.”
Founded in 2002, nine years earlier than LI Kick, ZogSports has expanded to seven cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago. Correira said that the younger demographic looking to settle down on Long Island made it a good choice for their next extension.
“We’re trying to follow where our players would be,” Correira said. “So we typically hit people ages 23 to 33, that are in the young professional world — they’re making a decent living. Maybe a lot of young people have just moved to an area and they’re looking for ways to meet people. That’s why a lot of people come to ZogSports, they are looking for a network, they’re trying to find a non-awkward way to meet people.”
For some, it’s a way to meet new people after moving to a new area with no connections.
“I moved to Long Island about nine months ago,” Shai Gerstle, a player in LI Kick’s soccer league, said. “So I don’t know anybody here, and this is a way to both be active while I couldn’t do other things, find stuff to do, meet some people, and have some fun.”