Kickball players embrace their inner playground scamp

AT PLAY

At Play

May 17, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A notice posted at his young son's school last spring caught Rick Foster's eye: People were needed to come cheer for its adult co-ed kickball team.

The Crofton resident couldn't believe people were playing a sport he hadn't even thought about since his childhood.

But Foster showed some school spirit and went to watch the Daily Discoveries team, dubbed the Double Ds, play several games. By fall, he had joined the team.

He's now the coach and loves playing for a group that's been renamed the Bad News Bears and competes in the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks' Tuesday night league.

"It's just fun," said Foster, who will turn 43 June 1. "Everybody just goes out and has a good time. How can you go out and get serious about a game you haven't played in 30 years?"

The kickball league, now in its third season, has succeeded among adults looking to mix sports, socializing and nostalgia.

It's fielding six teams this year, a 12-week season that runs through late June.

The World Adult Kickball Association (yes, there is one) has established rules: The pitching hash mark is 43 feet from home plate, with bases 60 feet apart.

The Anne Arundel league sets games at seven innings or 70 minutes.

Jason Brown is the coach of the Unbankers, made up of employees of Bank Annapolis, mostly from the Bestgate Road branch.

The Unbankers got together to play softball last year and switched to kickball this spring. It's a move they're not regretting.

"It's definitely like a recess for us," said Brown, an Annapolis resident. "It's a little bit of a workout during the week."

Brown said learning the details of softball can be tricky. Picking up kickball is much easier.

"You have to be a little more athletic for softball," he said. "But for kickball, you just run up and kick it."

Then again, even a playground game has its nuances. Players must decide whether to use the more old-school style of running straight at the ball and kicking it with the big toe or making contact with the side of the foot, soccer-style.

Or they learn to bunt the ball, tapping it with a foot just in front of home plate. That's often going to be a base hit because fielding the ball and throwing to first base in time can be an impossible task.

But Brown said no one is losing any sleep over these things. In fact, about 18 to 20 players regularly show up and don't mind standing and rooting for their friends if unable to play.

"They have fun with it," Brown said. "It just a good old time and not a lot of competition, which is good."

Pasadena resident Dennis Duncan, also in his first year, agreed with Brown and Foster that the league is about having fun and not trying to win every game.

"It's just about being out there with your friends and bringing back your childhood," Duncan said.

Of course, he's coaching the Party Ballers, who have gotten off to a fast start, winning their first four games.

Foster said his team doesn't practice and won't go over mistakes in the games or rehash plays. His children, ages 6 and 10, come to most games and watch their dad run around a little.

The team simply plays and learns as it goes. Foster said with almost everyone already juggling careers and children, scheduling practices isn't realistic.

"This is just a release for me," Foster said. "I'm trying to get more people involved. I love it, and I look forward to it every week."

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