Houston brims with options to stock the calendars of even the busiest of social butterflies. For those seeking to get sweaty while they socialize, Sportsmonkey Sports and Social Club both deliver competitive adult sports leagues in a format that encourages camaraderie and the enjoyment of boozy refreshments for a win-win, no matter the score.
The club's foundations were laid out in 1997 when friends Anthony Wegmann and Brandt Tillotson created a group called Club Monkey; its prime claim to fame included a pajama bar crawl. The “drunk monkeys,” as they referred to themselves, teamed up with Corey Johnston, former city director for the “Original” Houston Sport and Social Club to found Sportsmonkey in 2000; Johnston currently serves as CEO and Tillotson as president.
“It's too often that young professionals get wrapped up in the stresses of daily life,” says Johnston. “Adults are entitled to have fun and we get to help provide a means for them to relax, have fun, play sports, and enjoy friends.”
Roughly 22,000 Houstonians competed this year in 13 different sports leagues, including golf, basketball, bowling and bubble soccer, with sand volleyball, softball, and flag football earning top spots as the most popular leagues. The organization offers seven seasons that generally last seven to eight weeks with up to an additional fortnight for the playoffs. To join up, new players have to keep a close eye on the website, as most sports fill up fairly quickly.
Costs are dependent on various factors but the average cost is $525-$620 per team and $45-70 for individuals. To minimize injuries, Sportsmonkey has teamed up with Robert Horry Sports Medicine and Rehab Center to educate participants on injury prevention methods, provide free injury screenings at their facility, and offer expedited emergency or next-day medical care as needed.
Sportsmonkey is also expanding outside of Houston: This summer, sand volleyball, kickball, indoor soccer and indoor volleyball launched in The Woodlands, and starting in March 2016, a softball league will kickoff in Katy with plans to add more sports later.
Part of the fun of these leagues is the pre and post-game socials at sponsor bars, which offer special deals for Sportsmonkey teams—there's even a trophy at the end of each season for the team that drinks the most pitchers of Bud Light. There's also an annual Halloween party, a New Year’s Eve party and the infamous pajama bar crawl. A diverse roster of activities are planned throughout the year, including a beach trip during the summer, a ski trip during the winter, and various charity tournaments as well.
“Sportsmonkey is different from other sport and social clubs in Houston because we believe that we have the perfect mix of sports and socializing,” says Deirdre Buchta, Sportsmonkey’s director of marketing and social media. “A misconception of clubs like us is that the drinking aspect is more important than the sport aspect, and that’s just not the case with us. Being around for 15 years, we have created a sport and social club that gives the players within our leagues the ideal combination of wanting to have competitive games, while also having fun and socializing.”