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Hard workers kick their stress out in downtown Miami

A sports and social club, founded by a Kendall resident, allows many downtown professionals a chance to play sports such as kickball at Bicentennial Park.

Special to The Miami Herald
Earlier this month, about 100 business people and other professionals forgot about their serious work and kicked a ball at Bicentennial Park.

It brought back childhood memories of grade school kickball — and also gave new ones to members of The Miami Sports and Social Club.

Kendell resident Steve Arsenault started the club eight years ago to do just that. And also to provide a chance for folks to meet each other.

“To get professionals together who come from different parts of the country is hard,” said Arsenault, who once belonged to a similar sports and social club in Boston. “They could have a hard time meeting people . . . .”

“We are very much in the work-hard, play-hard group category because we don’t have a lot of time,” agreed Coconut Grove resident Sharky Borja, who played in the outfield. “When we do have spare time, we try to mix as many things as we can.”

That’s what Arsenault had in mind. He escaped Boston’s cold weather to come to South Florida for a job opportunity in 2001.

However, the job as a project manager for a web design company didn’t come through.

“By the time I came, the bubble had begun to burst,” said Arsenault about the dot.com industry.

So he started his club to bring together people for sports and just hanging out.

Earlier this month, his club hosted the first annual Dade Original Recreational kickball coed tournament at Bicentennial Park, where about 100 professionals of all ages mingled, kicked and ran the bases.

Coconut Grove’s Borja said kickball was a great way to release some stress.

His team won second place: The Therapists team defeated his Black team 6-1.

Several of Borja’s teammates were still in the Halloween spirit — some wore costumes such as a chicken hat.

Eight teams participated in the tourney. Each team played at least three games and vied for a $150 gift certificate to a nearby pub. There was also a second place prize.

Kickball has become popular in the nation. It is commonly played in elementary schools around the country.

The rules of the sport are similar to baseball. There are 10 positions on a team. The game is played with an inflated rubber ball on a softball diamond.

“It’s a sport anyone can play; you don’t have to be an athlete,” said Flintstones team player Bethann Stobs, who played second base. “Everyone has a good time because it’s only kickball and we can catch up with old friends.”

“It brings you back,” added attorney Cynthia Morales. “I was horrible in grade school and I am hopeful that I have improved since then.”

Aside from the sports competition, Arsenault said his club has served another function — as a matchmaker.

“We aren’t a dating club, but we have had people who have met and gotten married,” he said. “It happens, since you play something that you have in common.”

The Miami Sports and Social Club run other sports leagues year round. Go to www.tmssc.com for more information.

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