South Charlotte

Corporate sports are growing in Ballantyne

For years, adults have been sitting on couches and sidelines, watching younger athletes and kids play sports.

Now it’s the adults’ turn.

“It is basically an explosion of corporate sports leagues” recently, said Michelle Miller, associate executive director for the Ballantyne Village and Morrison Family YMCA.

Kickball, flag football, dodgeball, basketball, soccer and now sand volleyball are on the schedule at Miller’s facility.

“We have been doing internal corporate sports with larger companies like MetLife and Premier for the past three years,” said Lisa Johnson, Corporate Health Director at the Morrison Y. “So it has been a goal of mine to provide it for small to mid-size companies in the Ballantyne Corporate Park.

Those companies “haven’t been able to participate because they don’t have multiple teams.”

Enter sand volleyball.

Volleyballs are being made softer and lighter these days, meaning that after a friendly match players might feel some soreness, but no more bruises, up and down their arms. In addition, volleyball is not a high-energy contact sport.

Men and women of all ages and abilities can play on the same recreational team, making it easier for a smaller firm to put together a co-ed team with 10-12 players. Then it’s company versus company.

Lending Tree, Anheuser Busch, Procter and Gamble, the Morrison YMCA and Bissell Cos. are participating.

“Bissell has two teams, one from the hotel and another from the corporate office,” Johnson said.

Players do not have to be YMCA members; most companies are paying the $250 fee for each team.

Johnson said that the teams don’t currently sport jerseys, “but we will have a Ballantyne Corporate Park trophy that will change hands at the end of each season.”

“We are only offering recreational leagues to companies in the Ballantyne Corporate Park. The demand is so great, and we want to cover this area before we grow.”

Each team plays two games a week for seven weeks. The eighth week sees a single-elimination tournament among the top four teams.

“YMCA supplies the referees, and each company decides if they want to practice outside of regular games,” Johnson said.

The fall season runs through Oct. 2.

“We have 12 members on the roster and bring who we can. Many are traveling this week,” said E.J. Pezold from Anheuser Busch. “We’ve done 5Ks, parks cleanup and other service projects, but this is our first team sport together.”

Lending Tree employee Joey Capolongo said the games are “a great way to bring together employees from different areas of the company.” Capolongo works in the contact center, while teammates Sharath Salguti and Srinivas Madabushi work in technology.

“We have elite players and ones that have never played before,” said Johnson. “Our next steps are a dodge ball and kickball league for small to mid-size companies.”