Because it's never too early to shake off those winter doldrums and get your butt in gear for the warm weather that's (hopefully) fast approaching, we figured we'd get motivated and check in on spring sports leagues that are accepting sign-ups now.
The two most prominent we found are the Delaware Sports League and the New Castle County Recreation leagues, both of which primarily play games in and around Wilmington.
There are six sports featured this spring (some extending into summer), including flag football, kickball, wiffle ball, soccer, softball and bowling. If you're up for it, here are the details on price, schedule and application deadline for each sport. Giddy up.
Delaware sports league
The DSL is as much a sports league as it is a social club, with happy hours at area bars like Washington Street Ale House and Kid Shelleen's after most game nights, according to league prez Bob Downing.
And though the players are competitive in each sport, they try and keep a friendly atmosphere going at all the games. As Bob put it in a phone conversation, "Our one rule is, if it feels like you're being a jerk, don't do it." (The other rule is you must be 21 or older to play.)
"But the cool thing about DSL is that it provides a built-in ice-breaker for people, because you already know you have one thing in common," Bob said. "I wouldn't call us a singles organization, but we try to help people meet and interact in as many ways as possible."
The three big sports currently open this spring are wiffle ball, kickball and bowling. We've got most of the info on all three, but if you have any other questions or just want to sign up, check out www.delawaresportsleague.com. (If you register, the league will contact you through e-mail when games are canceled due to inclement weather.)
Wiffle ball league: There is one big co-ed league in which everyone plays against each other, with a playoff-style tournament at the end of the four-week season. Each team fields five players, but may have up to 25 on their roster.
Cost: Registration is $25 per person for the entire season.
Equipment: All bats and balls are included with the registration.
The Fields: All games are played at Rockford Park in Wilmington (1021 W. 18th St.).
Deadline: Although the absolute latest deadline for sign-ups is April 4, if you want to be in the system and get your free Delaware Sports League T-shirt, you must register by March 28.
Schedule: All match-ups are doubleheaders and take place on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with make-up games likely to take place on Sunday.
Rules: Games are played for five innings, two swinging strikes is an out, and everyone on the team bats, regardless of whether or not they play the field. There is no bunting, ghost runners are used and there are no walks.
Bowling league: The bowling league usually consists of teams of six. If you have a team, great. If you're an individual (or twosome or threesome) and want to play, they'll put you on a team with an opening.
Cost: Registration is pretty much paid in person each week, where $15 gets you the lane for three games, the ball and the shoes. (Pitchers of Bud Light are only $5.)
Equipment: Didn't we just go over that?
The Fields: Obviously, traditional bowling on grass doesn't work, so this one's indoors at AMF Price Lanes at Price's Corner.
Deadline: Once again, if you want the T-shirt, you must register by March 23. Otherwise, you have until March 30 at the absolute latest.
Schedule: The eight-week season meets every Monday night from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Rules: Try not to hit the other players or drop the ball on your toes.
Kickball league: Teams can consist of up to 25 players, but the league recommends keeping it to 15-20 per team, so that everyone gets a chance to play.
Cost: Registration is $45 per person for the season, which is a guaranteed eight weeks.
Equipment: They bring the balls.
The Fields: Once again, as with wiffle ball, all games take place at Rockford Park.
Deadline: Deadline is technically May 12, but Bob said this one tends to fill up rather quickly, so he recommends getting online to check things out and register by March 2. They'll keep things going as long as they have room.
Schedule: The games take place every Tuesday or Wednesday at around 6 or 7 p.m., starting starting May 12 and running until the end of June.
Rules: Pretty much the basic baseball/softball rules apply.
New Castle County recreation league
More than 740 teams and over 12,000 individuals participate annually in the county's programs, making it the biggest league around. And they have leagues in different sports pretty much every day of the week to fit your schedule.
Below is info on their three big spring sports (softball, flag football and soccer), but you can log on to www.nccde.org, and under resident resources, click on sports for more information and applications for registering your team.
Any questions regarding rules for each sport can be answered by calling the NCC Sports and Athletics department at 395-5890. If you decide to register, they have a courtesy inclement weather hotline available as well, which can be reached at 395-5891.
Softball leagues: There's a men's league with 14 divisions (140 teams) that plays Mon./Wed. night, Tue./Thu. night or Sun. evenings; a women's league with two divisions (10 teams) that plays Tue./Thu. night; and a co-rec league with four divisions (46 teams) that plays Fri. nights.
Cost: The league entry fee is $440 per team to start out, and an estimated umpire's fee of $335, which is to be paid in person at each game ($25 per official). For example, a team of 12 players would cost about $65/person for the season.
(With all NCCo rec leagues, if you're an individual or couple and want to join a team, you can sign up and they'll try and place you with a squad that's looking to fill out its roster. No guarantees though.)
Equipment: Each team must supply their own matching shirts with numbers on the back, as well as a new softball at each game. The home team is responsible for bringing the bases, all of which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
The Fields: The games are all played in Wilmington, primarily at Delcastle Recreation Area (800 McKennan's Church Road), as well as Banning Park (1000 E. Newport Rd.), Greenbank Park (210 Greenbank Rd.), Powell Ford Park (1000 Kiamensi Rd.) and Canby Park (499 N. Maryland Ave.).
Deadline: All teams must be registered by March 2 and paid in full by March 16. There will be a manager's meeting later that week, at which league officials will designate teams for different leagues, based on ability (from novice to highly competitive). Individuals may apply and wait to be chosen by teams after leagues are assigned.
Schedule: The games begin April 19 and run until mid-August. Each game lasts approximately one hour and 15 minutes over seven innings. All games are doubleheaders and start at either 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Umpires: If you aren't up for playing, but enjoy the game enough to want to officiate, contact the Northern Delaware Softball Umpires Association and ask for Mike Rowe (562-4780) or Chip O'Connor (777-1908).
Rules: In order to move things along, all batters start off with a one-and-one count. Otherwise, it's pretty much straight softball softball after that.
Flag football leagues: There is only one men's league, with four divisions (40 teams), and spots fill up very quickly.
Cost: The league entry fee is $335 per team, plus $25 per ref per game. An average team of 12 players would cost roughly $35/person for the season.
Equipment: Each team uses their own football, which they provide, and must also bring their own flags and belts, as well as numbered, matching T-shirts.
The Fields: Like softball, all games are played in Wilmington, primarily at Delcastle Recreation Area, as well as Marbrook Park (2101 Centerville Rd.) and Biden Park (309 S. Woodward Ave.).
Deadline: All teams must be registered by Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. A manager's meeting on Feb. 26 will determine team and league placement, according to skill.
Co-rec soccer league: Like the Friday night softball league, the soccer league is another way guys and gals can get on the field and play each other at the same time. Each team must field at least three women at all times. Also, men have to be over 30 years of age, while women have to be over 18 years of age. There are 24 different teams, and the leagues always fill up.
Cost: The league entry fee is $335 per team for eight games, with a $45 official fee being paid by each team on gameday. With a team of 20 players, that equates to roughly $35 per person for the entire season.
Equipment: The home team provides the soccer ball. Otherwise, the league mandates that shin guards be worn at all times.
The Fields: The games are played at Banning Park and Kirkwood Soccer Club (1220 River Rd., New Castle).