Since 1999, the Manayunk Sport and Social Club has given local residents an opportunity to play sports, have fun and meet new people. The league offers a variety of sports, and attracts players of all skill levels. Recently, some of the more popular sports in the club concluded their playoffs, including softball and outdoor soccer.
Dale Ziegenfus is in his second year with the club, and is part of “The Omars,” who won the most recent indoor and outdoor soccer championships. While reveling in his team’s success, Ziegenfus mentioned the club gave him an opportunity to continue playing sports he participated in while growing up.
“The team will celebrate our second championship in soccer, but we’ll also continue to support the club, and hope it grows even more,” said Ziegenfus.
Co-ed softball also recently had its championship game, with the “Golden Sombreros” winning their league after going into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Prior to the game, player Stephanie Leslie made a bold prediction: “We’re in the championship game, and we’re going to win.”
Leslie was able to channel her inner Joe Namath as the team was able to beat the odds yet again and defeat the No. 2 seed, “Deez Nuts.”
Both athletes and behind-the-scenes personnel within the club spoke of how the club can be important off the playing fields as well.
“If you want to meet people, have a good time and play sports while doing that, this is the club to go to,” said Leslie.
“It offers a good chance for people who may have played sports in high school or college to continue, but it can also act as a good bonding experience as well,” said Ziegenfus. “I’m actually 39 years old, so most of the people I play with are younger than me. But it’s been a great experience and I’ll continue to participate in, and support the league.”
One of the rules of the club is that you must be at least 21 years old to join. Tony Casselli, the director of the club, said reaching out to recent college graduates is a point of emphasis.
“Once people graduate, we hope this gives them a reason to stay in the area because of potential friendships they can make here,” said Casselli. “It also helps people have a better social life outside of work.”
Liam Wynne is a former member of the club, but stays in contact with many of the members as an employee of the Bayou, a Manayunk bar that hosts fundraisers and other events for members of the club. He said he’s also seen his share of relationships start through the league.
“I’ve seen people start out meeting each other within a league and eventually get married,” said Wynne. “I’ve also seen people become best friends through this club.”
The club is currently in its 16th season. Casselli believes that the club has reached the goals it set out to achieve when starting.
“We just wanted to create something that would give people a chance to play sports and socialize outside of work and school,” said Casselli.
With as many as 20 sports offered, keeping the club up and running takes a lot of work. Casselli said it’s a team effort when making sure everything runs smoothly.
“A combination of everything from workers to players to field maintenance and communication between everyone, it has been a total team effort,” said Casselli.
Wynne summed it up by simply saying, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
The club will offer seven winter sports, including dodgeball, kickball and men’s basketball.
– Text, images and video by Andrew Salciunas and Joseph Williams