AUSTIN (KXAN) — Social sports leagues across Austin are making a return after many organizations had to shut down because of COVID-19.

“Seeing the energy of the players, seeing people smile and laugh, it was something that was missing for so long and we need it,” said Marc Tucci, CEO of Austin Sports and Social Club.

Austin Sports and Social Club had to close almost all of its sports when social distancing became the norm. Some sports like pickleball, or any game where close contact was not required, was able to continue.

“We were operating anywhere between 20% to 40% of what we normally do,” Tucci said.

Initially, some employees were laid off, but with COVID-19 cases dropping in Austin the organization is now opening up again and many sports that had to be put on hold are happening again.

Many people like Blamey turned to pick-up games early on in the pandemic, and Zilker Park became a popular spot to social distance and get in a game.

“When the pandemic first hit I tried to come out here to Zilker and everything was super social distanced,” said Ashley Blamey, who just signed up for recreational sports through the club. “I am super excited to be back out here. It is super fun and I am so sick of sitting indoors and working from home. I am super excited to be out here talking with people and playing games.”

“I think we are all a little rusty, but that is the point to just come out and have fun,” she said.