If like me you were the last kid picked for any sort of gym class activity, then you probably have no idea what the Caspy Awards are. However, if you’re more athletically gifted than my fellow Darias, you may want to pay attention. The Caspy Awards, which were held at the Maine Irish Heritage Center this year on January 21st, is arguably the biggest night in the Portland intramural sports world. The awards night is the brainchild of Casco Bay Sports founder and director of operations, Pat Hackleman. The semi-formal event offers its guests dinner, drinks, entertainment, and of course, awards.
So what’s the big deal? While some may view intramural sports as a college activity, it’s actually part of a huge sports subculture here in the Greater Portland Area. Casco Bay Sports is one of the big wigs in terms of intramural leagues and are worth talking about on two levels: they offer their customers a competitive atmosphere, as well a provide a tight-knit social network for adult athletes.
Though most of the men and women competing in Casco Bay Sports’ 10+ leagues play because they love sports, Casco Bay’s unique community expands beyond the playing field. With happy hour specials at Pat’s Pizza, booze cruises, snowman races, and more, there’s plenty of things to do with Casco Bay Sports that don’t require a mouthguard. One participant told me that joining the volleyball league was “the best thing [she's] ever done.” When a teammate asked if she meant the best thing after having her daughter, she took a minute to reflect. “No,” she said, “this is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” Considering all the laughs I heard at the Caspy’s, I get the feeling she’s not alone in this sentiment.
The satisfaction of the customers is probably a result of the company’s great (and perhaps unorthodox) customer service. Founded in 2007, the employees at Casco Bay Sports know their customers very well. They joke with them, drink with them, and even play on teams with them.
Casco Bay Sports part-time employee (and Mister Casco Bay Sports nominee) Christian Rodriguez is a perfect example of this customer-client relationship. Not only does he play on three different teams, but he seems to know everyone in the leagues. A bit of a smooth talker, I watched Christian hop from table to table, mingling with his friends, colleagues, and teammates.
When I finally got a moment to chat with him, he said to me through a somewhat mischievous grin…
“As you get out of college, making real life friends gets harder and harder. Some of these people play several different sports with us — it becomes their Wednesday night, their Thursday night, their Friday night. It’s not just about sports. It becomes a lifestyle. Plus, it’s not a bummer seeing all the girls dressed up at events like this.”
This sense of lifestyle was truly exhibited at The Caspy’s. More hugging, heckling, and joking went on than at your average family holiday party. With awards given for everything from “Best Sportsmanship” to “Best Partier,” it was clear from the get-go that the league likes to acknowledge the serious competitive nature of the company, as well as foster its clients’ sense of humor. This humor is seen particularly in awards like the “Slipped One Past The Godfather Award,” which is given every year to the one clever team who best disguises their innapropriate team name, thus getting it by the perhaps slightly naive director, Pat. This year’s sneaky winner: Team BOHICA. I won’t regurgitate the acronym’s meaning in this post, but I will give you a hint: it starts with “Bend Over”…
While the awards night definitely had it’s silly moments, the leagues are no laughing matter. Pat told me they are a competitive sports league first. However, the bonds formed by playing together have created something truly wonderful for the leagues’ participants. A sort of co-ed, fraternasorority is forged. And though the leagues are close-knit, they are by no means closed off. There’s almost always room for more. In fact, though I only knew a handful of people at the awards ceremony, I was met with welcoming smiles and kind words by pretty much everyone there.
At the end of the night one woman (a stranger to me) approached my table and invited all of us to Brian Boru for drinks afterwards. Before turning to leave, she complimented me on my dress. I’m pretty sure I blushed. It’s times like this I wish I had some semblance of athetlicism.
Looking to join a team or just want more information on Casco Bay Sports? Click here.
To get a feel for what Casco Bay Sports events are all about, check out their upcoming “Snowman Adventure Race” on February 18. Costumes, running, biking, and sledding in Portland’s East End. Sounds pretty sweet.
For more sports events in Maine, check out our events listings!