Tonight was the first game of the inaugural season of WAKA Kickball here in the state of Minnesota…and the City of Lakes, Minneapolis specifically. I had signed up a few weeks ago and had been waiting with great anticipation ever since.
WAKA, or the World Adult Kickball Association, has been around since 1998 and has been spreading around the US ever since. Our division, the MN Twin Cities Division has 6 teams, all averaging around 18 players. We play over on the soccer fields near Lake Calhoun, which makes for a beautiful setting and easy access for me via the bike routes if I ever chose to commute to the game via bike. Our season is 8 weeks long, plus a playoff event afterwards. You can find me/us at both 6:30pm and 7:15pm each Thursday night. I was assigned to the “Lake Minnetonka Purifiers” team, headed by a veteran player from one of the many DC divisions. (The league started, and is particularly popular, in the DC/Virgina area as you can see on this page over at the WAKA site which lists all the divisions)
I got to Lake Calhoun Park a bit early, which was perfect since I got to see the previous game between the “Uncle Rico Raiders” and the “Sexy Ball Kickers”. It looked like everyone was having great fun playing…and I was eager to get out onto the field, if for no other reason but to get a better chance of getting blown by some wind to keep the gnats away.
As the first game wound down, our team gathered together and did introductions. We got our official team jerseys and picked out our starting positions. (We’re the white team, which means I’ll be giving Era a workout this season in an attempt to keep the t-shirt nice and clean!) Soon we were walking over to the playing field and prepared for play.
After the referees read a standard rule and disclaimer, a game of rock/paper/scissors was used to decide who would kick first and who would field first. We won the toss and chose to kick first. Our kicking order was decided in rough alphabetical order, which placed me, the left fielder, second in the line-up between our center fielder and pitcher. Jason, the center fielder, kicked a single, and I kicked a single as well. Now we were rollin’!
We went through the first two innings with hardly any scoring pressure. I think we were all trying to establish our bearings after not playing for 10, 15 or 20 years. It wasn’t until the third inning that our batting order choice finally clicked in just the right way. We scored 9 runs in the top of the third, unanswered by our opponents when they were up to kick. In the fourth inning, we picked up an additional 3 runs and limited our opponents to 2 points in the bottom of the inning. The fifth inning was scoreless on both counts, leaving us with a point in our “Wins” column with a final score of 12 to 2.
On the defensive side, I only dropped two fly balls; otherwise, I think I must have caught 5 or so fly balls during the course of the game. In one particular case, I lunged forward to catch the ball as I ran up to catch it right behind the third baseman and felt it slip through my hands. I did manage to deflect it under my body, came down hard on it but had it wrapped up underneath me. I heard my teammates yell for me to send it to second, so I rolled off to my side, located second base and threw it over leaving just enough time for the second baseman to catch the ball and tag the runner.
After the game, we went over to the Uptown Bar and Cafe, the league bar and tossed back a few drinks over conversation. They have certainly got the best hot dogs I’ve had in a long time…and at $3.50 for a hot dog and a cold Grain Belt the price was certainly right, too.
Of course, now I’m paying for all the crazy plays, moves and lunges I performed over the course of the game, but it was so totally worth it. I enjoyed every last minute of the game…the team I’m on has great chemistry right out of the gate, and I really loved getting to play kickball again after all these years. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to play - all of the excitement of reaching home plate, watching that pop-up just drop right in the pocket gaining our team a base hit (kick).