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XOSO: play sports, drink and be merry!

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For many of us, winter spells hibernation. A lot of staying under the covers, accompanied by wine and movies.

Sure we get some stretching in while reaching for the snooze button, or maybe a little cardio jumping over that puddle.

Most of us enjoy doing a little activity each day, but, unfortunately, will be faced with rain clouds, brisk winds and short days during the next couple of months. Strolling the park outdoors, walking to the store, or even walking to work, aren’t ideal options in the freezing temperatures and wet streets.

One solution to the winter funk can be found right here in Sacramento, with XOSO Co-Ed Sport and Social League – a league that includes outdoor and indoor kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, bowling, and “recess,” a rotating combination of all the sports.

“We’re trying to keep it fun and more recreational, trying to stay away from more contact sports and the games that can usually cause people to get angry. It’s really about having fun,” said Nick Berruezo, 31, the founder of XOSO.

XOSO, pronounced “zo-so,” like the Led Zeppelin album although not necessarily named after it, goes year-round and has seasons that typically last anywhere from eight to 10 weeks, and will sometimes even include a mini-championship.

Founded in May 2008, XOSO is different than some of the other recreational leagues in the area, as it provides its players with an outlet to keep physically active, while also focusing on the more gregarious aspects of daily life – eating, drinking, and shooting the breeze.

The keys to this combination are the local bars that work with XOSO to sponsor the different leagues. The teams meet once a week to play, and then take it back to their sports bar, where they enjoy discounted pitchers, well drinks and appetizers, as well as drinking games such as beer pong, flip cup, darts and pool.

The teams enjoy some other festive perks: XOSO puts on themed quarterly pub crawls and has just introduced a new VIP discount card, which can be used year-round at different XOSO-affiliated businesses, such as Blue Cue, Brew it Up!, Capitol Bowl, On the Y, and others.

“It’s about going out and socializing afterwards, that’s the catch,” said Jason Marks, 27, who has played multiple sports with XOSO for all but its first season. “It’s not so much about winning the games.”

While XOSO may not emphasize competitiveness, it is still a very athletic league. Many of its players have been lifelong athletes who are looking to enjoy a nice balance.

Marissa Francis, 28, a veterinarian medicine student at University of California, Davis has played with XOSO since March 2009.

“I competed in high school,” she said. “I played basketball, volleyball, I threw shot-put and discus, and I did softball and swimming for a semester, but I like the recreational feel.”

Another way to amp up the exercise is by competing in more than one league at a time. Since each sport only meets once a week, it opens the doors for many of the players to be on multiple teams per season.

“I work at an office, staring at a computer all day, so it’s nice to know I’m exercising two or three times a week,” Marks said. “Being on teams is a really good motivation.”

Berruezo brought the idea of a sport and social league with him from San Diego after playing on a kickball team for a few years. In the summer of 2008, XOSO consisted of one league – outdoor kickball – and 50 players. It is now upwards of 3,000 players and will introduce bowling as its sixth sport next month, as well as a boot camp closer to spring.

“Most major cities in the country have a sport and social league,” he said. “It gives people the chance to mingle, meet new people, expand their social setting. That’s what sets them apart from mainstream leagues.”

This is just one of the aspects that gets rookies interested and keeps veterans coming back for more, season after season.

“I’m planning on staying in the Sacramento area after I graduate, and a big reason why is because of all the friends I’ve made through XOSO,” said Francis, a native of Southern California. “It’s my mental health, it’s not talking about medicine once in a while. I love getting out there and enjoying the interaction.”

Upcoming XOSO registration information
(Note: Online registration is available for individuals and small groups. Full teams must register by mail. Registration covers league fees, equipment, and XOSO T-shirt)

For more information, visit www.xososports.com

Thursday nights at Capitol Bowl, 900 West Capitol Ave., West Sacramento.
Registration ends: Jan. 6
Season begins: Jan. 20
Sponsor bar: Drink While You Play! Capitol Bowling Bar
$85 each, or $500 for a team of 8 people

Wednesday and Thursday nights (depending on division), Boys and Girls Club of America, 1117 G Street.
Registration ends: Dec. 22
Season begins: Jan. 5 and Jan. 6
Sponsor bars: Wednesday – Bulls, 1330 H Street Streets of London, 1804 J street. Thursday – Blue Cue, 1004 28th Street.
$65 each, or $700 for a team of 13 players

Indoor Kickball
Monday nights, Boys and Girls Club of America, 1117 G Street.
Registration ends: Dec. 20
Season begins: Jan. 10
Sponsor bar: Streets of London, 1804 J Street Bulls, 1330 H Street.
$65 each, or $700 for a team of 13 people

Tuesday nights, Boys and Girls Club of America, 1117 G Street.
Registration ends: Dec. 21
Season begins: Jan. 4
Sponsor bar: Blue Cue, 1004 28th Street. Hangar 17, 1630 S street.
$70 each, or $600 for a team of 10 people

Sundays nights, Boys and Girls Club of America, 1117 G Street.
Registration ends: Dec. 19
Season begins: Jan. 9
Sponsor bar: Zebra Club, 1900 P Street Blue Cue, 1004 28th street
$65 each, or $700 for a team of 13 people 


Photos courtesy of www.xososports.com

Editorial note: Corrections have been made to this story after it was published.

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