It's the slap of a high-five after the ball's been kicked into the net. It's the skid of the puck across the ice. It's the whoosh of a frisbee sailing through the air. It's the sound of pickup. For Washingtonians who can't commit to a team because of a hectic job schedule or simple lack of organization, the sound of an always-scheduled, no-commitment pickup game is music to the ears. If you're looking to just show up, try these resources:
Soccer. Pickup Soccer Games (www.acromedia.com/soccer/pickup.html) is a national database of just that. Log on to find games like the one Tom Morgan organizes every Saturday at Lakeside Park (Kings Park West, Fairfax): At 5 p.m., 15 to 25 guys gather to kick the ball around for a few hours. Through the Yahoo Group, SportsinDC (groups.yahoo.com/group/SPORTSinDC/), Chris Guttridge organizes a Saturday match on the National Mall: men and women in their twenties and thirties meet at the Smithsonian Metro at 2 p.m. and then find a field. The Federal Triangles Soccer Club (www.federaltriangles.org), a group of gay and lesbian soccer players, meets Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the Polo Fields on the National Mall. Players are both gay and straight, and the skill level is mixed, ranging from complete novices to former college all-stars.
Hockey. All types of hockey -- field, roller and ice -- can be found in this area. A group of 20- and 30-something women meets Mondays at 6 p.m. for field hockey: log on to the Yahoo Group DC Field Hockey (sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/DChockey) or show up at the National Mall between 14th and 15th streets. "All that's required is a willingness to play, a mouthguard, shin pads and a stick," says organizer Abi Howe. Advanced roller hockey players should check out the playground at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School (Morris Place NE, between Sixth and Seventh). A group meets Saturdays at noon and then sometimes heads to the Lucky Bar for a few drinks, says regular Mike Pearlstein. Several local ice rinks feature weekly pickup games, including Mount Vernon RECenter (2017 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria; 703-768-3224) and the Gardens Ice House (13800 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel; 301-953-0100; www.thegardensicehouse.com). Call the rinks for day and time as schedules change regularly. Another roller and ice hockey resource: Pickup Hockey (www.pickuphockey.net), a locally run Web site with games around the country.
Frisbee. Ultimate fans will find games every day except Monday and Friday. At Monument Field, games are held Tuesdays and Thursdays (5:30 p.m.), Saturdays (10:30 a.m.) and Sundays (noon). On Wednesdays play starts at noon at 23rd and Constitution and at 5:30 on the field behind the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The schedule will change when the Washington Area Frisbee Club (www.wafc.org) starts its summer league, so stay plugged into pickup games by joining the DC Pickup Yahoo Group (sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/DCPickup/).