A kick in the park

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Once the domain of elementary school playgrounds, kickball is growing up

By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Monday night, they gathered at a leisurely pace at Harry Hill Park; men and women of various ages and various athletic abilities.

Once the teams were assembled, they took the small baseball field, in turns, to boot a soft-ish rubber ball as hard as they could.

With rules similar to adult co-ed softball, two teams kicked it out for five innings before Odds & Ends was declared the winner with 12 runs to Campbellsburg Baptist Church’s zero.

The teams were gatherd as part of a small, but enthusiastic group of adult kickball players.

Yes, kickball. That game most of us played in elementary school either on a playground or a baseball field.
Adult kickball leagues have been gaining popularity in recent years. Paul Handley, the coach for Odds & Ends said that’s evidenced by the interest in Shelby County.

“There were 14 teams in Shelbyville last year,” he said. “This year, 25 showed up.”

Instead of participating in that league, Handley and members of Henry County co-ed softball teams decided to start an adult kickball league in Henry County.

The season wound down Monday night, with the last regular season games, but will pick up again next fall.
Handley said few people who try it end up not liking it.

“You can be as competitive as you want,” he added, “but there’s only so much you can do.”The rules really are similar to those for co-ed softball, including how many male and female players can be on a team. But anybody can kick. “We kick everybody we’ve got,” Handley said of his team.

The pitcher takes the regular pitching mound and rolls the ball toward the kicker. And just like softball, a pitch that doesn’t go right over the plate is counted as a ball. Kicks where the ball lands outside of the first- and third- base lines, of course, are fouls.

And, as one player discovered Monday night, there is no bunting.

Outs, of course, are earned by catching a ball while it’s still in the air. Or, by chucking the ball at the baserunner.

“The thing that tickled me was they said you can’t hit them above the shoulders or below the knees... on purpose,” Campbellsburg Baptist Church pastor Shawn Golden said.

Golden credited Handley for getting him interested in the sport.

“We announced it at the church, and got a few people organized,” he said, adding that the kickball league had been nothing but fun.

Monday night, as Golden’s team prepared to play its final two games of the season, he discovered a problem — he had too many players. It was the first time, he joked, that he’d had that problem.

He bragged about the problem to the other team’s players. “Here I am talking smack and we’re probably going to get beat,” he said, laughing.

Monday night, the teams used a soft, basketball sized white rubber ball. But this was not the style of ball they started with. Handley said they began the season with a larger red ball, but popped three or four of them on the fence. And, Handley said, they were hard to throw, so the league switched to the smaller ball.

Travis Buchannan, the parks director for Henry County, said that the league seems to be going well. “We just wanted people to have something to do after work that they could do here and not have to travel real far.

There were just three teams this season, and games were played on Monday and Thursday nights.
The league’s regular season is over, but they will have a one-night tournament on Nov. 14.