Sam Fisher, director of adult sports for the D.C. Recreation Department, has the tired air of a man who's heard it all before. For ten years he's been doling out the Mall's playing fields to the city's sports enthusiasts.
"Everybody wants to go downtown and play," he sighs. "Space is at a premium. We get a lot of calls, and the hardest thing is to tell 'em no. The space is just not available."
Softball is the worst: "What don't come close to accommodating the number of people who want to play that game. They talk about tennis growth - you got a president that plays, you got a mayor that plays now. Coed softball is extremely popular.
"But when you have no diamonds you can't have new programs. I am somewhat frustrated. The counties only have to service the people that are taxpayers there, but when you get on federal property you have to service everybody. We have to try to accommodate the demand, and we're not always able to. You get lots of bad feelings."
If you want to get involved in a Mall sport, stop by and talk to the players. It's as simple as that. "That's how the rugby program started and it's now up to 23 clubs, and some of those clubs have four teams," said Fisher. "It started by people taking a look at it and making the contracts."
Here's where to find them.
CRICKET - Washington Cricket League (Michael Dupitney, 636-7803) meets Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 7:30, just east of the polo field in West Potomac Park.
FRISBEE - Washington Area Frisbee Club (Eric Knudsen, 620-3158) meets Sundays, noon, on the west side of the Monument grounds. About once a month they play Frisbee golf around Constitution Gardens.
HOCKEY - National Hockey Association (Ganga Dhillon, 881-8390 days, 431-2137 evenings) meets Saturdays and Sundays, 9 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., April through June and October through November on the fields on the south side of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and 17th Street.
LACROSSE - Flaps Lacrosse Club (Steven Magdits, 692-1846 days, 577-3023 evenings) meets February through May just south of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, right next to where the Park Police keep their horses ("a minor handicap if the wind's coming from the south.") Previous experience required.
POLO - National Capital Parks Polo Association a.k.a. the Lincoln Mall Club (Jack Sted, 362-3095), plays Sundays at 3 through June and at 4 through July and August, on their field between Independence Avenue and Ohio Drive, just west of the Tidal Basin. BYO pony. Season runs mid-April to August and Labor Day through November, depending on the weather.
RUGBY - Potomac Rugby Union and Club Sudamericano de Rugby (Kenneth Green, 338-6670) play September through November and March through May on their fields at 15th and Independence (in front of the Bureau of Engraving) and 22nd and Independence (next to the polo field).
SOCCER - National Soccer League (Luis de Aguila, 686-1080) meets Sundays, 12:30 and 2:30, August to December and March to May on the polo field in West Potomac Park. Also contact the Capital Soccer League: Michel Sellier, 965-2920, or George Edelin, 676-6893. Also, pick-up soccer is played all weekend long around the polo field.
SOFTBALL - Forget it.
VOLLEYBALL - No organized leagues, but games are played all day Saturdays and Sundays in the Courts located along Rock Creek Parkway near the Kennedy Center between Roosevelt and Memorial bridges. CAPTION: Map, no caption, By Richard Furno.