Kickball: It's not just for grade-schoolers anymore.
Dozens of young adults came out to Garbutt Park in Ferndale on Monday night for a kickball showdown, facing off in teams for their playoff finals as part of a league through Come Play Detroit.
Aiming to help keep young professionals in Metro Detroit, Come Play Detroit is a Detroit-based organization that offers unique, active social experiences for young adults.
The leagues focus on young professionals ages 22-35, but anyone over 18 is welcome. "We don't send anyone away based on age," said founder Justin Jacobs.
Jacobs started the business in 2010 as a young professional himself, just looking for something to do after work. It began with a basketball league and quickly grew from there.
Today, more than 7,000 people are participating in various co-ed leagues - from kickball and dodgeball to tennis and volleyball - that play at locations throughout the area.
"I think that people at this point in their lives are looking for an opportunity for a dynamic lifestyle that hasn't really been offered in this community," said Jacobs, who lives in Midtown Detroit. "We're offering an opportunity to come out after work, meet new people, have fun and have a nice break in the week."
It's an "easy sell," he says: "We sell fun."
People of all skill levels are welcome to get involved. The kickball teams have been so popular that Come Play Detroit is now also offering leagues based on skill levels for kickball - offering competitive leagues and groups that are purely recreational.
The teams all interact and the official meeting spot after games is Como's in Ferndale.
"We definitely have a great range of people from Ferndale, Royal Oak, Berkely, Detroit," and more, Jacobs said.
While many people join a team with friends, there are also teams set up just for newcomers - "people who are looking to meet new people," he said.
Social opportunities are key to retaining young professionals in the area, Jacobs said, pointing to research that shows the most important thing to young people when choosing a place to live isn't always jobs or other factors but instead the social offerings.
"It's that fun lifestyle that they want to go out, meet new people," he said. "It is such a basic aspect to community."
The response to the organization has been overwhelming, Jacobs said.
"We've got amazing support in the community because everyone wants to see young talent stay here in Detroit," he said. "I feel very fortunate. I just wanted something to do. I found everyone else agreed with me."
For more information or to register for a league, visit www.comeplaydetroit.com.