From volleyball to pickleball and beyond, these adult sports leagues across Metro Detroit are for newbies and competitive players alike
By Danielle Alexander
When Justin Jacobs moved home to Michigan in 2007, the Birmingham resident, who was then in his mid-20s, found himself bored after work and missing the friends he made while playing recreational sports in Chicago. So he decided to build his own sports league — and three years later, ComePlayDetroit was born.
To-day, the Detroit-based company organizes and operates 80 intramural sports leagues in the city every year, including kickball, soft-ball, volleyball, bowling, basketball, tennis, broomball, and even competitive euchre.
“When we started, there was a major lack of safe and clean spaces to play, so we were limited on our program capacity,” says Jacobs, who credits Quicken Loans, Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and the Belle Isle Conservancy for the development of new parks (namely Rocket Mortgage Sports Zone, Robert C. Valade Park, Beacon Park and more) that brought these programs to life.
“There are now hundreds of people playing sports every day in parks all over the city.” Looking to flex your competitive — and social — muscles? In addition to Come Play Detroit, here is a list of other adult sports leagues across Metro Detroit to consider joining.
1. COME PLAY DETROIT INTRAMURAL SPORT LEAGUE
2. MICHIGAN SENIOR WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE
With more than 700 players and 29 teams, the MSWHL is one of the largest adult women’s travel-hockey leagues in the country, open to players age 19 and older. The season begins in October and typically runs through March, when it concludes with the annual “Ruicci Cup” playoff weekend. New to the game? No worries: Teams are divided by skill level, and since emphasis is placed on overall skill development, body checking is not permitted.
3. ON THE DUNES VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE
You don’t need to live near a beach to play sand volleyball. On the Dunes in Commerce has 10 outdoor, regulation-size beach volleyball courts where men’s, women’s, and coed volleyball leagues compete in the spring, summer, and fall. Newbies can opt for a recreational league, while more experienced players can sign up for the advanced teams. On the Dunes is also home to axe throwing, baseball/softball, dodgeball, football bowling, and golf.
4. OAKLAND YARD ATHLETICS’ CORNHOLE LEAGUE
Oakland Yard Athletics offers a variety of leagues at its Waterford facility, but cornhole is a favorite — there were more than 100 teams registered during the winter 2021 season. Leagues range from recreational (for those just seeking fun) to competitive (for die-hards). Bonus: The new OYA Bar & Grill is open and serving food and drinks during adult league and tournament play.
5. THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF METROPOLITAN DETROIT’S PICKLEBALL
Played with a paddle, plastic ball and slightly modified tennis net, pickleball — commonly mistaken as a sport played only by seniors — grew by more than 21 percent last year, according to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association. The JCC in West Bloomfield has three pickleball courts where players can compete Monday through Friday, no equipment needed. They also offer pickleball lessons for those interested in learning how to play.
6. PALAZZO DI BOCCE’S BOCCE LEAGUE
In addition to upscale Italian dining, Palazzo di Bocce in Lake Orion is also home to coed bocce leagues that range from beginner to advanced. The restaurant provides the equipment for the sport also known as “Italian bowling;” just bring your good aim — the object of the game is to get your ball closest to the pallina, or the smaller “target ball.”
7. THE BACKYARD AXE THROWING LEAGUE
Axe throwing, a sport that’s similar to darts — but with way sharper projectiles — is on the rise, according to the International Axe Throwing Federation, which represents more than 6,000 members in six countries. Join the growing ranks of axe throwers at the Backyard Axe Throwing League in Novi, which offers eight-week seasons year-round. No matter your experience level, you will compete individually while receiving tips from the league’s coaches.
8. DETROIT CITY FIELD HOUSE’S ADULT INDOOR SOCCER LEAGUE
Established in 2018, the Detroit City Field House serves as the headquarters of the professional soccer team Detroit City Football Club. The indoor facility set in Detroit’s Elmwood Park neighborhood also offers year-round adult coed leagues featuring 40-minute games. In addition to men’s, women’s, coed, and youth soccer leagues, the 75,000 square foot indoor facility is also home to indoor lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and more.
PLAY TIMEA basketball game organized by ComePlayDetroit, which operates 80 intramural sports leagues in the city annually, including tennis, softball, bowling and more.DOWNTOWN DETROIT PARTNERSHIPHEALTH SEEN