SM BEACH — All Blake Dirickson wanted was to bring friends together for pick-up games in Santa Monica. He ended up running a marathon inside a bar (on a treadmill) for charity and organizing monthly charity tournaments.
The Santa Monica Sports Club (http://santamonicasportsclub.com/), founded by Dirickson, 34, is holding its first soccer tournament Saturday, Sept. 28, at 11 a.m. on the beach. All of the cash raised will go directly to 826LA, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids with locations in Mar Vista and Echo Park.
“I was trying to find a way to combine my passion for Santa Monica sports, and a way to bring my friends together, and then that evolved into trying to bring friends together for a good cause,” Dirickson said.
Dirickson, who works in marketing, kicked off the sports fundraisers in April with a basketball tournament at the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Clubs. About 60 people showed up and the money went to benefit the clubs. The Santa Monica Sports Club is not a nonprofit, but they hand the money directly to the group they are benefiting.
“Blake inspired really amazing people to come out for the event,” said Janis Morse, director of development at Boys and Girls Clubs. “I was really pleased at the caliber of people that came to share the experience at our club, and I’m looking forward to having them back soon.”
The Sports Club, whose motto is “No dues, just benefits,” raised $2,500 for the Southern California chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through an event at Yogahop, Dirickson said.
“It’s a grind each month to get these events together,” he said. “Once the event finally starts happening, … and you see people … coming together, you start realizing how cool this is. It’s not brain science. It’s the simple things in life.”
In December of last year, Dirickson ran a marathon to benefit Movember, a moustache-growing fundraiser for men’s health.
“I figured if I was going to be doing all this running, I might as well raise money for charity,” he said. “And then I thought, why run a marathon if I can just have my own? But then I realized that I was going to have to stop traffic in Santa Monica. And I was going to have to ask my friends to wake up at 7 in the morning and hand me trailmix. That was not going to happen. My friends are going to sleep in. So the idea was to have a marathon take place at a bar, on a treadmill.”
Saturday’s event costs $20 per person, or $100 for a team of five or more. Players are meeting at 11 a.m. at Ocean Park Boulevard and the beach. The four-on-four games will last 20 minutes, with each team guaranteed a minimum of three games.
“These days, not a lot of people have time to get in a workout,” Dirickson said. “And they don’t necessarily have a lot of time to come out to do a good thing. This is a way they can get together and do both.”