Some come for exercise, some for fun and others for the love of the game. Amy Stuck comes for all these reasons and because she’s bad at softball.
“I couldn’t hit the ball,” Stuck said. “That’s a problem.”
Columbia’s first kickball league is calling Stuck and others to Rainbow Softball Center. Stuck’s team, The Big Red Ballers, will join 14 other coed teams for Columbia Parks and Recreation’s kickball league’s inaugural year. Teams will start their season today and continue for the next nine weeks.
Carol Riney, program supervisor for Parks and Recreation, said the success of similar kickball leagues across the country led to the creation of a league in Columbia.
“We decided to give it a shot,” Riney said.
The softball-challenged Stuck answered the call to kick after a co-worker learned about Columbia’s league on the Web.
“I like to do active things during the summer,” Stuck said. “I thought this wouldn’t be too difficult for me.”
For Stuck, it will be the first time she’s played kickball since elementary school.
Experience isn’t a requirement, but $200 per team is. Registration began on March 1 and closed earlier this month.
Columbia’s league will follow the Amateur Softball Association rules with a few modifications. For one, games will last for only seven innings or 60 minutes, and teams have to consist of at least five men and five women. There are no strikeouts or walks, but an attempt that misses will be called an out. Plus, there is no leading off or stealing allowed when someone’s on base.
A total of seven games will be played tonight, and every week, on the red and yellow softball fields. The Big Red Ballers will take to the yellow field at 8 tonight in their gray T-shirts adorned with the player’s number and nickname. Stuck’s is “Hot Shot.”
The concept of an adult kickball league may be new to Columbia, but the World Adult Kickball Association has been around since 1998. The association has more than 10,000 members.
The association began in Washington, D.C., and has slowly spread across the country, with regional leagues in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
“Everyone has a blast,” said Aden Beihl, a representative of WAKA. “It’s a social and athletic organization — with an emphasis on social.”
WAKA teams compete in an eight-week season followed by regional playoffs. The winners of the regional tournaments are then invited to compete at the World Tournament in Washington, D.C.
“The simplicity of the game makes it accessible to everyone,” Beihl said.
While there is no WAKA league in Columbia, the association held a tournament, “The KC Kicks Classic,” on April 4 in Kansas City. The tournament benefited the Nick Lowery Youth Foundation, which works with underprivileged youths and people with disabilities.