Story by DYLAN VALERIO
One night after a long day behind his desk working for the big tobacco company Marlboro, Dave Marquardt realized he wasn’t happy with the career path he had taken. He sat and thought about how his life was going.
He realized one of the only things that brought him joy was playing kickball with his friends after work at River City Sport and Social Club. It was a place where he could have fun, let loose, and relieve himself of stress.
However, the people running the club weren’t friendly to their participants. Then the life-changing idea popped into Marquardt’s head: He recalled thinking he could do the same thing as these guys, but significantly better. The idea of Beehive Sport and Social Club was then born.
Marquardt soon quit his job and moved back to Salt Lake City from Richmond, Virginia. He then called his old friend James Accettura to invite him into his idea. Accettura quickly agreed without hesitation. Marquardt credits him with helping the most along the way.
Now, Beehive is approaching its 10-year anniversary as the only adult sports club in the Salt Lake City area where adults can have fun while also staying active.
Beehive’s website currently lists 11 different leagues. They consist of multiple sports ranging from cornhole and pickleball to the more traditional kickball and softball. All the leagues are co-ed. Players pay a fee to participate in each league with the price varying for different sports.
Beehive, founded in 2011, hasn’t always been what it is today. When the club first started, it didn’t offer 11 sports, but just one. It has taken dedicated hard work to build Beehive to its current position. Most of this didn’t happen in the beginning or all at once, but instead throughout the years.
Accettura said starting Beehive wasn’t difficult, but still required them to do new things such as building schedules, writing rules, and finding equipment. The pair had never done any of this before and it pulled them out of their comfort zone.
“Thankfully, me and Dave’s skills are complementary so we would both work on everything together and strengthen each other,” Accettura said in an email interview.
Marquardt and Accettura agreed they didn’t want to make the club about the sports, but instead about the people playing them. Marquardt said they wanted to serve not just ex-jocks looking to relive their glory days, but also people who just wanted to have fun too.
“The point has to be to introduce people to a fun environment where they can meet people and enjoy the games,” Accettura said. “Building personal relationships is the most important thing for us.”
Beehive is a place where people, especially those new to Salt Lake City, can find a social life and meet new friends. Marquardt said in a phone interview that in their 10 years, Beehive has been responsible for “65 marriages, 24 babies, and about 1,000 one-night stands.”
According to Ryan Chisolm, a current participant in one of Beehive’s leagues, this is exactly what Beehive has done. Chisolm, also known by his stage name Bangarang when he performs as a DJ, has been a participant in the club for about seven years.
“You meet some really cool people. Everyone here is dope,” Chisolm said in an email interview. He added that Beehive creates a fun and safe environment. “You can be yourself and no one cares.”
Chisolm is one of about 10,000 people who participate in Beehive each year, Marquardt said. In order to create a positive environment for so many people, the club has 80 part-time employees who have an extremely large role. These employees include referees and social-media specialists who “define the league,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt, Accettura, and all of Beehive have continued to try to make the community and their participants the main focus of the club. This has been more difficult this year compared to any other due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.
Beehive is sport-dependent and participants are always in close contact. This means coronavirus had a better chance to affect Beehive compared to other organizations. According to Marquardt, 70-80% of sport and social clubs across America have been forced to go out of business because of coronavirus.
The beginning of the pandemic was the most uncertain time for Beehive. According to Marquardt and Accettura, they had to shut down from March 12 to July 6, cancel one of their biggest events of the year, and push all their leagues to the next season.
During the shutdown, Beehive still continued to try to bring their participants together. “We organized movie nights, weekly Zoom Trivia, and Zoom Bingo,” Accettura said. Beehive is also planning a bingo night for the University of Utah.
Now, leagues are reopen, and Beehive is doing everything it can to make sure everyone is safe. For example, Beehive doesn’t play any sports indoors, it requires masks for all participants, has people use sanitizer, and cleans all equipment regularly. “The main thing we have done is try to create space within the games,” Accettura said.
Looking back on their 10 years, Marquardt and Accettura are proud of what they have been able to create and that it’s lasted so long. No matter what they have faced, they have tried to put their participants first in order to create a community where people are able to have fun and be themselves.
Even as Marquardt looks back on the past success of the Beehive Sport and Social Club, he looks forward to its future. “When I die,” he said, “I want this to keep going without me.”