Growing up I participated in every sport my parents threw at me: soccer, swim team, gymnastics, dance, tennis and golf. I stuck with about half of them until I started High School where my interests shifted to vocal performance and theatre. When I got to college I stayed focused on the performing arts but started to wish I'd stuck with at least one sport. At the time it didn't occur to me that I could play a sport as a hobby even if I was starting it again in my twenties. It wasn't until I moved to
New York and met a group of guys that played on an amateur soccer team at Chelsea Piers that I decided I could do it too.
Upon moving to
Santa Monica, I received a local news publication in the mail called Seascape. It was a goldmine of local activities: yoga, kickboxing, dance, volleyball, tennis, soccer and much more. What excited me the most was not only the variety of choices but the variety of levels from beginner to expert. At that moment I decided to just throw caution to the wind and take up soccer again. I wanted to be part of a team sport and do something active that would hold my interest. I also wanted to meet other women in
Santa Monica and I thought this would be a great venue to do it in.
These programs are all run by the city of
Santa Monica and are therefore always inexpensive. I showed up on the first day in my tennis shoes and sweat pants. I didn't want to invest in any soccer gear until after my first game. I was afraid I would get onto the field, see balls flying at my face, and end up in the hospital for an unscheduled rhinoplasty (the upside would be that I could finally call myself a real Los Angelino). Luckily, there were no injuries and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I remembered the game. Our coach, Roberto, is one of the loveliest, most generous guys I've ever met. Any money he makes from coaching he gives right back to his students/team. In the several months I've been playing I've received two soccer balls, shin guards, and a world cup soccer key chain. Roberto doesn't coach because he has to, he does it because he absolutely loves it.
If soccer isn't your game there are a multitude of other sports and activities to choose from. You can start by checking out Seascape or try meetup.com and active.com. Or just go for a run along the beach. You'd be amazed at the plethora of sports that go on. One day I was riding my bike on the boardwalk in
Santa Monica and I saw these young guys running in the sand playing some type of sport that involved a large egg-shaped ball. The game was rugby, the sport that gave birth to American football. It's a sport hardly played in the
US but here were a group of guys playing an organized game of it on the beach. I later discovered there are a multitude of rugby pick-up games along the coast of
Los Angeles most days of the week. It's not a sport I'd play but I certainly had no complaints watching shirtless men with sexy accents throwing a ball around.
The two beach sports I see played the most are volleyball and surfing (I think you can call it a sport). If you walk down to the beach any day of the week you'll see throngs of people participating in either sport. There's even a new sport being groomed right now called beach tennis. I'm not sure if I'll ever surf (the whole idea of looking like a delicious little seal for big sharks to eat just isn't that attractive to me!) but volleyball and beach tennis are definitely something I'd love to tackle. It would be fantastic to run around in the sand slapping a ball around wearing only a bathing suit. What says
California more than that?
Through the whole experience I've been exhilarated by the confidence that comes from playing a sport. I was fascinated to discover that many of the older women on my team began playing soccer again because they were inspired by their children who are now playing it. They realized it's not too late to try something new or revisit an old favorite game. I am so thrilled that I had the epiphany at this stage in my life instead of ten years from now. The ball's rolling and I plan on running after it for years to come.