Rugby Ball. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Éamonn, Creative Commons.

Unexpected popular Sarasota County sports

With lush green fields and sporting facilities throughout Sarasota County, there's no better time than the present to participate in a recreational past-time. While baseball, soccer, tennis and golf are popular sports for many, here are a few sports you may not know, but boast a vibrant community in Sarasota County:

Rugby

Organization: Sarasota Rugby Club

Web: sarasotarugbyclub.com
Contact: (941) 284-8890, [email protected]
About: The sport of Rugby was created in the 19th century at Rugby School in Rugby, England and was originally a variation of soccer. The sport had a large hand in forming American Football and to this day it stands as one of the most physical sports around. While there are a couple different forms of rugby, the Sarasota Rugby Club plays a version with 15 players on each side battling to carry an oval shaped ball down the field to score a try, which in American Football is the equivalent of a touchdown. The game is played over two 45-minute halves for adults, or two 35-minute halves for youth.

According to Tim Beury, the Vice President of the Sarasota Rugby Club, the team has recruited 12 new players in the past few months of all different skill levels and nationalities, totaling a playing roster of over 30 guys.

Sarasota Rugby Club is open to all would-be players regardless of experience. It costs $100 for new players, which includes shorts and socks with an embroidered crest. For returning players, the fee is $150,annually. Practices are Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The Sarasota Rugby Club also serves as a 501c3 non-profit charity that helps provide rugby to youth in the local community.

For visitors looking to watch, check out the organizations schedule for upcoming games.

Roller Derby

Organization: North River Rolling Renegades

Contact: [email protected] for recruiting, [email protected] for other information including sponsorships
Web: northriverrollingrenegades.com
About: Roller derby today is a sport popular with all-female teams, and even has an international governing body called the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, or WFTDA. According to the WFTDA, the term "roller derby" dates back to the 1920s, and historically refers to describe roller skate races. Now, roller derby is a contact sport where teams select a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.

The North River Rolling Renegades is a local team run by the Suncoast Quad Squad, a member owned-and-operated organization. According to its website, Suncoast Quad Squad is not only is dedicated to the sport, but also to volunteer efforts in the local community.

Women ages 18 and over can try-out for the team, and both men and women can get involved as referees, announcers, and coaches. League practices are two hours two times a week. Visit northriverrollingrenegades.com for more information and where to watch.

Cricket

Organization: Sarasota International Cricket Club

Contact: [email protected]
Web: SarasotaCricket.org
About: Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played with two teams of 11 where each team takes turns at bat in which they try to score runs. The sport reportedly started in the 16th century in England.

The Sarasota International Cricket Club is celebrating its 30th year. Now, the club grown to about 50 playing members from several different countries including India, Australia, South Africa, England and Israel.

According to club chairman, Laurence Parry, the club, which owns its own pitch, is recognized as the best club in the entire Southeastern U.S., bringing in teams from around Florida and the world to its six acres of field.

For spectators, the games at the grounds are free to watch. The Sarasota International Cricket Club is starting a junior program throughout the winter for youth to play.

The club also hosts a Thanksgiving festival of 15 teams complete with a "Social Programme" that includes two parties and a Gala dinner.

"We're a very active club. Well-respected and well-renowned club," Parry says. "They (the teams from around the world) love Sarasota. They feel as though they are coming back home."

 Membership cost $135 annually and includes participation in the annual Thanksgiving Festival. Regular games are on Saturdays and Sundays. Visit SarasotaCricket.org for more information and contact the club regarding weekend match times.

Frisbee Golf

Organizations: Sun King Disc Sports; Friends of Lakeview Park; Sarasota Sky Pilots

Sun King Disc Sports

Contact:  [email protected]
Weekly Play: Sun King Doubles, 9-holes (played twice for 18-holes total)  
Where: Payne Park
When:  6 p.m. Wednesdays
Cost: $3 to play (plus optional $1 Ace Fund, $1 Closest to the Pin)
Details: Teams are randomly drawn, and payout is in Sun King Disc Sports vouchers 

Friends of Lakeview Park

Contact:  [email protected] 
Weekly Play: Red Pad Challenge, 18-holes
Where: Lakeview Park
When: 6 p.m. Fridays
Cost: $3 to play (plus optional $1 Ace Fund, $1 Most Birdies Fund)
Details: Singles play with handicaps and payout is cash

Sarasota Sky Pilots

Contact:  [email protected] 
Weekly Play: Sky Pilot Handicap, 18-holes
Where: North Water Tower Park 
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, excluding winter months, and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays
Cost: $5 to play (plus optional $1 Ace Fund, $1 Birdie Fund, $1 Bogey-free Fund). non-club members add $1
Details: Singles play with handicaps and payout is cash 
Weekly Play: Sky Pilots Doubles, 18-holes
When and Where: 10:30 a.m. first Sunday at Lakeview Park, third Sunday at Bird Bay Golf Course, all other Sundays at North Water Tower Park 
Cost: $5 to play (plus optional $1 Ace Fund), non-club members add $1
Details: Teams are randomly drawn and payout is cash 

About: Disc golf is one of the most eco-friendly sports in the world, according to Florida State Coordinator for the Professional Disc Golf Association Bryan Moore. The equipment is affordable and requires very little maintenance and many courses are free to play.

Sarasota County courses include North Water Tower Park, Payne Park, Lakeview Park, Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, which is a private course, Peace Lutheran Church and School, Sarasota Boys and Girls Club, and Pinebrook Park.

Three groups organize disc golf locally, and each May Sarasota County is home to a tournament that draws more than 150 players at the Bobby Jones Executive Golf Course.

Weekly play is open to anyone interested in playing. If you didn’t bring discs, you can purchase them locally at Sun King Disc Sports, sunkingdiscs.com, an official Disc Golf Association vendor.

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