By Karen Billing
Most people prefer to play sports as a team rather than alone but that isn’t always easy a good pick-up game. A new iPhone application and website called Sportaneous hopes to bring like-minded athletic locals together for some healthy and social competition.
The new application and site was founded by a group of friends including Ricky Pentella, a Torrey Pines High School grad.
“We just wanted to create an easier way to link up with people and exercise in your community,” said Pentella, who serves as Sportaneous’ vice president of strategic planning and media marketing.
Pentella said cities have done so much to create nice spaces for recreation — why not promote their use? Using Sportaneous is an alternative to a gym membership and a great compliment to rec sports leagues. Pentella said.
San Diego was the first launch city for the app and website and the first ever Sportaneous game was played at the La Jolla Recreation Center in late January.
“It went really well,” said Pentella of the launch and the first pickup basketball game. “We’re on track to have 10,000 users by the end of the month and we’ve definitely seen an increase in games proposed.”
Launches in cities like New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco are currently on their radar.
Pentella, 24, graduated Torrey Pines in 2005 and attended UC Berkeley where he played lacrosse. He now lives in San Francisco and in addition to his involvement with Sportaneous, works as a designer at Sungevity, a home solar company.
Pentella attended Cal with co-founder Omar Haroun, a graduate of Bishops. The Sportaneous team is rounded out by fellow San Diego natives: Co-founder Aaron Royston graduated from Bishops and lead programmer Nick Shifton is an alumni of La Jolla Country Day alumni and Harvard, where he got a degree in computer science.
“They’re definitely really impressive guys,” Pentella said.
Even more impressive is that they’ve got NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton signed onto their board of advisors.
The genesis of Sportaneous was really this active group of guys, trying to find an easy way to fit sports into their increasingly busy lives.
Pentella, for one, can’t wait for Sportaneous to hit San Francisco. He moved to the city six months ago and as an active guy with a full time job, it was hard to find a pick-up game he could join.
“I was really dying to play pick-up soccer but it was really difficult to find a game,” Pentella said. “It took me five months to find a nice field I could play pick up on. I could have expedited that with something like Sportaneous.”
To get playing is simple, Pentella said. Users log on and choose their neighborhood and sports they like to play — currently they have basketball, soccer, football and ultimate Frisbee (yoga and running meet-ups are in the works). The site has a database of all the local facilities and uses GPS technology to find a close, reliable spot for a game and some new friends in the area who might be interested in joining you.
The app is available for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smart phones and is also easily accessed online — you can even sign in through Facebook.
Additionally you can rack up Sportaneous points by joining or proposing a bunch of games. Get enough points and you can be put in the Hall of Fame and win athletic apparel or other incentives.
Check it out at
and in the iPhone App Store.