Don’t tell Eric Bartels and Christian Rinaldi there’s nothing to do in this area. Not only can they immediately rattle off a list of fun things to do in The 570, they’ve created the Scranton Social Sports Club (SSSC) to meet the growing needs of those who want to expand their social circle and stay active in the community. Hailing from Dunmore, Bartels and Rinaldi are cousins and business partners. Bartels works at Scranton Preparatory School and Rinaldi is employed by Prudential. In their spare time, they formed the SSSC in February of this year. Now they’re welcoming men and women of all ages (21 and over) to enjoy a variety of sports leagues as well as other special events, such as the recent Hunt ‘N Crawl event, a scavenger hunt and pub crawl, in downtown Scranton. We caught up with them as they prepared for the next big event on their ever-growing to-do list: the Monday Night Touch Football League, which starts Sept. 10. Meet Eric Bartels and Christian Rinaldi…
The name of your organization is Scranton Social “Sports” Club. Does that mean everything you do is sports-related?
CR: Even though the name is Scranton Social Sports Club, we’re trying to do things that aren’t related to sports, too. We want to work on vacations and events like the scavenger hunt we just had. We’re looking to get into races, and we’re working on getting into Wilkes-Barre, too.
How do you describe the club to someone who’s not familiar with it?
EB: It’s a social league, and I always tell people it’s co-ed, too, because sometimes people think of sports and they think it’s a men’s league. We are doing a touch football league on Sept. 10 and it’s co-ed.
CR: And we have gender rules in play for almost every sport so everyone gets a fair shake and equal playing time.
What sports have you organized leagues for so far?
CR: We’ve done volleyball and touch football, and we did a kickball tournament as well. We’ll also do dodgeball.
EB: We have a lot on our list that people will like.
To participate in the leagues, do you need to be a serious athlete?
CR: We’ve had people from age 21 all the way up to people in their 60s. You do have to be 21 to play because we are sponsored by bars, and the social aspect of this is we promote that everyone is welcome to go the bars afterward. They’ll usually get deals on drinks and we run a bar tab contest. The team that spends the most at the bar, whether it’s on drinks or food, wins a prize, too. So if you can’t win at sports, you have a shot at winning a prize somewhere else.
How does this work — do you become a member for a year, or do you pick and choose what you participate in?
CR: It’s not like a club or a gym membership. Say you only like volleyball. You could sign up for volleyball and not see us for a year. We run 8-week leagues. It’s $50 per person, which includes a tee-shirt, six weeks of regular season, two weeks of playoffs, and at the end of the season, we throw them a party at the bar.
EB: So if we ran 11 sports in the year, there would be 11 different parties. And a lot of people do stay (for multiple leagues) because when you have good old competition with friends in the area, it’s a good thing. Plus, we’ve been getting emails from people who are new to the area. That’s huge for us. We love that.
Do you have to sign up as a team or can individuals register, too?
EB: We take individuals or teams. We have people on teams right now who are extremely good friends and they just met each other eight weeks ago. They would have never met if it wasn’t for us. That’s something great about the league.
Let’s talk about the benefits of being part of the Scranton Social Sports Club.
EB: A lot of people who might not have played sports in high school or college, now, if they want to start becoming active and the gym isn’t really for them — it’s not for everyone — so they can get into something like this and have fun. We’re pretty strict with rules, so we keep it fair for everyone.
CR: And this gets everyone in a social setting, and everyone has to work together, so this is even good for businesses because it promotes team building.
EB: I noticed that once you graduate college and you start working full-time, like most people do, really you’re looking forward to the weekend and having some time off. We give people something to be excited who may normally be in the same mundane routine — go to work, go home, eat, go to bed. It’s something people look forward to.
And now you’re giving people in Wilkes-Barre something to look forward to as well. Tell us what you’re planning.
CR: We’d like to do a scavenger hunt there at the end of September, early October, and then we’ll be doing our first league in Wilkes-Barre starting with dodgeball. We’re looking at the last week of October, first week of November for that. And ultimately what we want to do once we have the league established there is have an overall championship where the teams come together and have playoffs.
— julie imel
The Monday Night Touch Football League (in Scranton) begins Sept. 10. Early registration is encouraged. For more information on this, and other activities hosted by the Scranton Social Sports Club, visit www.scrantonsocialsportsclub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.