The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh
Looking to switch up your physical activity now that it finally feels like spring? We found four sports you can play locally that you may never have considered.
(page 1 of 2)
Football, hockey and (sometimes) baseball dominate in the Steel City sports scene, but our options don’t end there.
Try your hand at one of these four sports that are alive and thriving in the ‘Burgh.
photos by Samantha Ashley Tarr
For a fast-paced and physically demanding sport, look no further than rugby. Like many sports, the goal of rugby is to score the highest number of points in a match. Players pass the ball laterally or backwards to one another to advance up the field to their opponent’s tryzone. Any player can run with the ball, pass, kick or score.
Rugby is a full contact sport with complete tackles requiring a player to wrap their arms around their opponent before driving them to the ground. A try is scored when the ball is grounded over the opponents’ goal line in the in-goal area. Other points can be scored by penalty kicks, conversion kicks, and drop goals.
The sport has gained traction with youth leagues, high school and college teams, clubs, organizations and tournaments all over the Pittsburgh area. Pittsburgh teams play one another as well as teams across the state and country.
Interested players can learn more about rugby from the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club, the newly merged club by the Pittsburgh Rugby Club and the Pittsburgh Highlanders. The two clubs will play one final match against each other on May 19 before officially becoming one.
“The best part about rugby is it doesn’t really matter what your body type or athletic abilities may be, there will be a spot for you on the field somewhere,” says Angela Smarto, interim president of the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club, a title she shares along with interim president Neil Reynolds of Pittsburgh Highlanders.
“When you play rugby, you are part of a bigger community because rugby culture is very social,” says Smarto. “You play your opponents, you shake their hand, and then you feed them for free and they return the favor. It doesn’t matter how good you are, once you’re in, you’re in.”
photo by Vaidas Brazauskas
A standard handball game features seven players on each team working to score the most goals by handling and throwing the ball using, you guessed it, their hands. Players can pass, hold possession or shoot. If they hold possession, they can dribble or take three steps for up to three seconds without dribbling. Players must shoot from outside the goal area because only the goalkeeper can be within that space.
“I think the reason I play handball is because I can still be physical without the risk of turning an ankle like I would playing basketball or football,” says Andrew Burick, founder of the Pittsburgh Team Handball Club. “It’s harder to get injured playing handball because it’s less jumping up and down and more focus on speed and passing.”
The Pittsburgh Team Handball Club was founded in 2016 and competes locally with other teams. They do practices and pickup games and see teams go to regional and international tournaments. Because it is an international sport, most popular in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, handball provides the opportunity to network and play with people of all cultures.
“We have people from all over the world and different walks of life that you might otherwise not usually meet,” says Burick. “The Pittsburgh Team Handball Club is very social, good for networking, and gets people together to play this unique sport.”