Football, basketball, oh yeah. Been there, bought the tee shirt. America’s pastimes to be sure, along with soccer and other such faves. But now and again, it’s fun to think outside the game box. Look out in left field and consider these three alternatives to conventional athletics.
Although it remains obscure in parts of the United States, cricket has been around for centuries. It has a huge global following, particularly in Europe, South Asia and Australia.
Kuljit-Singh Nijjar is the president of the Dallas Cricket League. His organization has grown to 180 teams over the past decade. Kuljit, who is originally from India, decided to get more involved with cricket when he realized his own kids knew very little about the sport he grew up loving.
“A lot of the players we have are Asian, but we are also seeing more people coming out who grew up here,” he said. “It is a great game for everyone.”
Cricket is played with a bat and a ball, similar to baseball. Matches are set on a rectangular field called a pitch. Two sets of three sticks each, called wickets, are set at each end. Teams alternate turns batting and bowling (throwing). The bowler tries to hit the wickets while the batsmen – there are two at a time – attempt to hit the ball and then run to the wicket at the opposite end of the pitch.
“It may seem confusing at first, but the rules really aren’t that complicated once you start to learn,” Kuljit said.
The Dallas Cricket League has leagues for men, women and children of all ages. Teams are grouped by skill level, and league officials will help newcomers learn the sport. Games are played at several area locations including Plano’s Russell Creek Park. Find more information at dallascricket.net.Dallas Cricket >
Plano resident Julie Holmer first became aware of pickleball when she and her brother-in-law ran across some people playing it at Oak Point Recreation Center. They decided to give it a shot one day when they spied an open court. Other players soon joined in and helped teach them the game. Julie fell in love with it. She eventually became an official ambassador for the United States Pickleball Association, through which she hopes to raise pickleball awareness in Plano.
“It’s just the best sport. Anyone can play it,” Julie said.
Pickleball was first introduced in the 1960s. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis, and it can be played indoors or outside. Players volley a hollow plastic ball over the net with a short paddle. The small court size and relatively relaxed pace of play makes it an ideal sport for all ages.
In Plano, the Oak Point Recreation Center, Carpenter Park Recreation Center and High Point Tennis Center have pickleball facilities. Court availability can be found at planoparks.org.
For those looking to get involved in organized matches, the United States Pickleball Association website usapa.org has the latest information on leagues and tournaments across the area. There is also a group page on Facebook that serves as a gathering place for local pickleball enthusiasts (search Plano Pickleball Club).United States Pickleball Association > Plano Pickleball Club Facebook Group >
Mark Gonzalez, an account manager from Richardson, said he picked up disc golf a few years ago in his native Austin. Since moving to North Texas, he’s become a regular at area courses, including Shawnee Park in Plano.
“I never really got into regular golf, but this appealed to me for some reason,” Mark said. “It’s simple and relaxing but still competitive, and a whole lot cheaper.”
According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, the sport became formalized in the 1970s. The rules are similar to regular golf, but players throw a disc – or Frisbee – instead of hitting a ball. The goal is to get to the hole in as few shots as possible. At most disc golf courses, that “hole” is really a raised metal basket attached to a pole.
A group page on Facebook (search DFW Disc Golf Minis List) provides information on tournaments across the DFW area. For those just looking for an afternoon out with friends, there are free public courses in McKinney, The Colony, Carrollton and Lewisville among others. An extensive list of disc golf courses, events and other resources can be found on the Professional Disc Golf Association website at pdga.com.Professional Disc Golf Association > DFW Disc Golf Minis List Facebook Group >