As the ball quickly rolled toward me, painful memories flashed before my eyes. I was haunted by visions of P.E. class – of a childhood that involved always being the last one picked to play. I would stand there on the field, chubby and awkward, watching as everyone – even the kids with handicaps and broken limbs – would be picked before me.
I remembered how I would foolishly try to convince my pediatrician to write letters to my school excusing me from participating in any form of physical exercise. I remembered being booed by my entire high school (600 students) after failing to throw a football properly during a pep rally. So as I kicked the ball, I prayed that this experience wouldn’t become yet another tragic memory.
Although I have never been athletic, I found myself spending this past Saturday participating in a women’s kickball tournament. The event, Kix for Chix ’07, was the first event to be organized by the newly formed East Coast Sport and Social Club. The club, formed by Lynn Hallmark, was created as a means of convincing locals to get out of the house, get some exercise and socialize.
Most large cities, especially those near universities, have sport and social clubs. The organizations function as a healthy alternative to the bar scene, providing members with the opportunity to participate in sport and social events (as the name suggests), as well as meet new friends, dates and business connections.
Whereas most sports and social clubs require members to pay membership dues and fees – sometimes as much as $500 – East Coast Sport and Social Club is free to join. Also, it is the only club of its kind to cater to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. It’s not that the other local sports and social clubs exclude non-heterosexuals, but East Coast Sport and Social Club is the only one that actively accommodates and advertises for that demographic. As such, the members are both open-minded and supportive, which was obvious by the atmosphere of the kickball tournament.
Despite my lack of experience and knowledge in kickball, the other players made me feel welcome. The tournament was made up of 10 teams, each with nine players, competing for the championship. Teams were made up of members and non-members, like myself, who heard about the tournament through word-of-mouth and creative advertising, such as the tournament’s logo, which contains an image of a blonde woman wearing short shorts and high heels while holding a kickball. If nothing else, I wanted to play kickball so that I could look like the logo. Team names reflected the uniqueness of the players – Kickin-N-Screamin, Diva Dawgs, Vigilicious, and Tantrums, among others. I was a guest player for the Tantrums, which consisted of members of Tampa’s roller derby league. Known for their unique costumes, the roller derby girls came to the game dressed in fishnets, short shorts and skirts, and frilly panties. They were almost dressed better than the girl on the tournament’s logo.
Kickball is very similar to softball – a fact that didn’t help me because I never mastered playing T-ball as a child. Most of the players grew up playing sports, in particular softball and soccer, but all kinds of players were welcome, including people like me, who run funny and hope that the ball never comes their way. Seven innings (not “rounds” as I referred to them) are played, with three outs allowed for each team before switching sides. The game is over after seven innings or fifty minutes – whichever comes first.
I played two games of kickball – the first against Vigilicious and the second against Diva Dawgs. The Tantrums lost both games, which I hope was not due to my poor athletic skills. Despite my inabilities, all of the players were cool and non-judgmental. After all, the team invited me to play a second game with them even after seeing me play in the first.
For those who missed Kix for Chix ’07, East Coast Sport and Social Club is planning many other events for early next year. Plans include “Boot Camp”, which consists of a day of physical activities followed by instructions for preparing healthy meals, “Urban Challenge”, part scavenger hunt and part pub crawl, and even more kickball matches. Other highlights will include dodgeball games, tennis matches and Final Four parties. Future events will also cater to men as well as women.
Fortunately, my participation in Kix for Chix ’07 did not result in any more traumatic memories. Not only did I get out and get exercise, but I met many great people as well.
As Hallmark said, “Get out and be social.”
For more information on East Coast Sport and Social Club, visit eastcoastsportandsocial.com.