Annual Manual » Annual Manual: Recreation

Group Action

Ditching the solo sports for some quality team time outside

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For many, getting your rec on at a gym carries too much of a hamster-wheel vibe. League sports offer the opposite with some social interaction. From volleyball to tennis, camping to canoeing, snowmobiling to samba classes, if there's a sport to play, there's a group for it.

In to biking? There are more than a dozen biking groups in the Treasure Valley, each with a different focus. The nonprofit Boise Area Mountain Biking Association (eaglebikepark.org/bamba) organizes group rides while pedaling for a cause. As a part of the International Mountain Biking Association (imba.com), the group manages the Eagle Bike Park with the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (swimba.org), which also works on grooming off-road trails.

"It's a general advocacy group advocating for cycling in the valley," said Patrick Cusick with SWIMBA. "One of the main purposes is to advocate and help the city learn how to manage the Idaho Velodrome Park."

But much more than cycling is offered for those who want to do a little group recreating.

The Boise City Parks and Recreation Department (cityofboise.org) organizes league games, like five-on-five basketball through Boise's NBA development league team, the Idaho Stampede. Volleyball, flag football and adult softball are also part of the lineup, and Parks and Rec recently launched adaptive sporting, with leagues for adults and children with disabilities, including wheelchair rugby and basketball.

"That's what makes it kind of cool. Everyone has their abilities and their disabilities," said Parks Coordinator Emily Kovarik. "The guys that are currently playing [wheelchair rugby] are considered quadriplegics. They're banging around inside the gymnasiums right now."

Sports leagues—whether the players are hellbent on taking home trophies or just bent on having a good time—are bringing back sports as a community builder.

"It's the strength in numbers that gets people organizing and it progresses the sport more effectively, too," said Cusick. Whether it's building together, or shaping trails, maintaining trails; it's doing things together."

Eric Leaman realized the potential to build on this theory. He return to Boise after finishing his undergrad degree at the University of Washington, where he worked for a company that made casual sports leagues into a business. Leaman said he knew he could export the model to Boise, where he could build new relationships.

"When you're cheering someone on, and you're meeting someone in a low-pressure social setting, afterward you trust that person, you know them," he said. "Then you can go to the bar."

During his Ignite Boise 8 presentation titled Bowling Alone, Leaman talked about the decline in civic engagement, something he hopes to bring back with his new business, Gameday Sports (gamedayboise.com). He organizes leagues for sports like bowling, dodgeball, softball and kickball.

"That civil, face-to-face engagement brings back trust to a community," said Leaman.

Few rec groups are as fervent as Boise's running community, with local shops like Shu's Idaho Running Company (1758 W. State St., Boise), See Jane Run (814 W. Idaho St., Boise) and Bandanna Running and Walking (504 W. Main St., Boise) serving as cultural hubs for the sneaker-clad faithful.

All three stores offer regular group runs, relays, races and marathons—basically, as long as a hurricane hasn't hit the Treasure Valley, chances are a group of runners can be found.

If you'd rather slow the pace and get off the pavement, ebullient hikers flock to the Boise Foothills in comfy boots to hit local trails. The Idaho Hiking Club (meetup.com/idahohikingclub) boasts a swelling membership of explorers, offering up all manner of local excursions.

With around a dozen hikers per outing hitting Idaho's trails, lacing up those old kicks and getting off your duff could be your ticket to a fresh bunch of like-minded peeps.

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