Adult coed leagues bring together players of all levels for energetic, but not intense, competition.
A DECADE OR SO ago, it felt like everyone I knew was joining a kickball team. My childhood memory of kickball consisted of retreating into the outfield and hoping nobody could kick hard enough that I would have to field the red rubber ball.
But others, apparently, had fonder memories of the sport.
Paco Ramirez started playing adult kickball 10 years ago. He still captains his team, Bottom of the Fifth.
Underdog Sports Leagues
Ramirez didn’t grow up playing team sports, but he loved following them, particularly baseball. When a friend brought him to a pickup kickball game, he realized it was the perfect sport for him — he can indulge his love of strategy and baserunning in a friendly and fun atmosphere. His team now plays with Underdog Sports Leagues.
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“You get to run around and get some energy out,” he says. “It’s a fun, competitive sport, but not overly competitive, like softball. For me, it was perfect.”
While soccer players have an edge in kickball, you don’t have to be good at kicking to play, Ramirez says: Some people come in who haven’t been physically active for years, and by the end of the season, they are more competitive and have better coordination.
Kickball is not intimidating, but you do develop skill over time. Ramirez has seen people try to kick the 10-inch ball as hard as possible, and boot it straight in the air to the pitcher. Placement, apparently, requires some finesse.
And it’s not a super-competitive atmosphere, anyway, Ramirez says.
“Generally, the sense is, we’re adults playing in a coed rec kickball league,” he says. “Let’s not get too carried away here.”
For the past decade, Amy Noble has captained the Ballsagna team in Everett. Before she joined, she saw a woman at a Zumba class wearing a kickball T-shirt from Underdog. She ran up to her to find out more, and gathered friends and family to join the league.
She loves being social, and kickball combines people with activity. In Everett, Noble sees the same teams year after year. They hang out, play and get together for beers afterward.
“We’re not soccer players. We’re not a bunch of athletes out there; we’re just out there to have a good time,” she says.
But don’t let that bouncy red ball trick you into thinking you aren’t going to work. Noble’s key piece of advice? Warm up, and stretch.
Everyone thinks, “It’s only kickball,” she says.
“It’s only kickball until you kick the ball the first time, and then you have to run,” she says.
Ramirez’s team signs up for two to three six-week seasons every year, but his favorite event is the Red Rubber Showdown, an all-day kickball event with teams from all over the state and Portland.
As for why kickball holds such long-lasting appeal, Ramirez and Noble simply explain how much they really love kickball. I suppose it’s no longer nostalgia if, after a decade, your team still is going strong.