Amateur sports offer sedentary adults chance to kick-start metabolism 

rs. Even people who'd never before touched a soccer ball, they will come play indoor," he said. "It is very hard to do that with outdoor."

Sometimes dubbed "football without pads," rugby mixes the flowing movement of soccer with the complexity of football. Unlike football, there are not prolonged breaks in action, and unlike soccer, rugby is full-contact. According to Marcus Burgher, club president of the Oklahoma Crusaders, rugby players have to supplement practice with outside training.

"You need to exercise in a gym on your upper and lower body strength as well as your core strength," Burgher said. "You aren't going to spend all your time at the gym, though. You'll have to go out and get some cardio, and you need two types of conditioning: aerobic and anaerobic."

Aerobic refers to the ability to maintain a moderate to high heart rate for extended periods of time, and anaerobic being short spikes of intense activity, specifically during sprints and scrums. 

That's not to say only athletic freaks of nature are capable of playing rugby; Burgher said there is a place for all types of athletes.

"There are the hulking 300-pounders out there," he said. "Rugby is a sport for all people of all shapes and sizes. It's not like basketball in that if you aren't 6 feet tall, you can't compete. It's not like football where you have to be abnormally sized."

Because of the physicality, there is an age plateau to full-contact rugby, Burgher said. In response, leagues for older rugby players exist that have all the health benefits while also minimizing the risks of catastrophic injuries. The Crusaders also stage no-contact exhibitions for new players trying to learn the subtleties of the games, as well as give older players a chance to hit the field.

In a few short years, roller derby sprouted three separate teams in the metro with other teams around the state, such as a Tulsa and a Guthrie/Stillwater team.

Oklahoma City is represented by the Tornado Alley Roller Girls and the Victory Dolls in flat track bouts. The Red Dirt Rebellion is preparing to start its inaugural season on a banked track.

Derby is as legit as any men's sport and emphasizes endurance, since periods are 20 to 30 minutes and jams can last as long as two minutes without a break. Players skate within a pack where they need to focus on strength and positioning, or as a jammer, where speed, endurance and coordination are needed to lap all the other players on the track. Either way, conditioning is key.

"I can't think of a woman who has started playing derby that didn't immediately notice a change in their body once they started," Victory Doll Sarah Schmidt said. "It's typical for one to lose weight from the intense cardio, and the combination of skating and blocking can develop strength in places that you don't think to work out at a gym. It's a great way to tone up, especially in the lower body."

The team aspect also pushes skaters beyond their normal boundaries, Schmidt said, since competitive spirit adds extra motivation that one can't find inside a gym.

There are also "new girl" practices that aren't so time-intensive and ease novices into the sport. The sessions are more focused on building endurance, teaching the fundamentals of the sports, agility drills and refining the stride, which gives skaters their speed.

Schmidt said that because derby has become so female-centric, it has helped inspire enduring loyalty within its ranks.

"There are not a lot of options for women who want to play team sports. There are a few adult basketball leagues and some co-ed options, but I'd never before experienced the camaraderie and sincerity that join together women who play roller derby," she said.

Football has developed into America's sport and dominates the front pages of sports journalism throughout the year. But what about amateur players who are past their college or high school playing days, but still want to strap on the pads?

The Oklahoma Metro Football League was started in 2007 to gather all the semipro teams in the state into one league to cut down on travel and expenses. After a successful inaugural year, the OMFL expanded to two fields and ten teams. The regular season starts in March.

The sport isn't dominated solely by men, however. Women have their own outlet for full-contact football with the Oklahoma City Lightning competing in the National Women's Football Association. Either way, football is a physically and mentally challenging sport.

Randall Miller, the owner and defensive coordinator for OMFL's OKC Gunners, said that semipro teams draw players capable of moving up to Arena Football 2 or other pro leagues, but also first-time players who want a rigid and demanding workout.   

"It's a lot of running and a lot of physical contact. You have to stay in good shape or you're going to get hurt," Miller said. "If you don't practice as a team, you won't win. The teams that practice the most are the most in sync, and it really shows."

Although it might seem daunting, both physically and financially, to try out football for the first time, he said new players can compete at the semipro level so long as they have athletic ability, are willing to work and have some guidance.

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