Kickball gains a toe-hold in GF
Recess, with beer.
In a nutshell, that's adult co-ed kickball, the latest craze -- OK, mini-craze -- in Grand Forks. About 80 grownups are reliving their favorite schoolyard recess activity.
Co-ed kickball is 49 percent sudsy sociability, 49 percent exercise and 2 percent athleticism, a perfect potion for fun. The 80 players wearing neon-colored, non-numbered T-shirts occupy Ulland Park on Monday evenings in a league that keeps no standings, has no playoffs and barely keeps score.
Testosterone need not apply.
"It's a childhood sport that's just awesome," said 27-year-old Becky Ehreth, a member of the team clad in the lime green of road construction worker vests.
Teammate B.J. Beaulieu, 23, described the team's attitude this way: "We appreciate wins, cheer catches and everyone who scores gets a high-five and a hug."
Torrential rains limited Monday night's games to two innings. Then, at least half of the players headed to TJ's Sports Bar, likely because TJ's sponsors half of the league teams. Call it a wise business plan.
There, the second half of kickball's appeal is experienced. Nationwide, the sport is growing because of the twin attractions of stress-free competition and social networking for 20-somethings and 30-somethings.
"I work at home so this is my way to meet people, socialize and not be a hermit," said Erin Gaddie, a 29-year-old co-worker of Ehreth's with Altru.
"I thought about playing softball, but then I found out most of the girls played in high school or college. No one is a pro here. I thought maybe I could get to a base or two or maybe even catch a ball."
Darryl Marek, who has worked for the Park District and the Y in various recreation capacities, brought the game here after seeing its popularity in the Twin Cities. The startup was advertised locally by word of mouth.
Also an umpire in the league, he started his game with the words, "Kicker up!"
Between innings, the commissioner watched the light-hearted proceedings with a look of satisfaction on his face.
"There are smiles all around," he said.
Smiles and malted beverages.
Gaddie chuckled at her team's naïveté on opening night. "We drank Gatorade and water," she said.
The rain not only ended the kickball, it also canceled Marek's post-game competition for the players: Gunny sack races.
Kickball and sack races? That's a recess made in Heaven.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.