That game played during recess in elementary school with a big, bouncy ball? It’s back, and in a big way.
The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) officially started one of its summer leagues in Salt Lake City. The league, named the Capital League, will be playing kickball every Thursday at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Liberty Park starting tonight. All who sign up — and are 21 or older — are welcome to play.
Founded in 1998 by a group of friends in Washington D.C., WAKA boasts more than 4,000 teams of kickballers in more than 35 states, as well as in London and Iraq. Unlike most national or global sport associations, WAKA is a non-profit organization. It encourages its leagues to raise money for charities of choice, which is its way of giving back to the community.
Kenneth Hoffman, customer service manager over Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, said WAKA is more than just a bunch of people playing kickball together; it fosters a social environment like nothing else.
“WAKA is a great way for people to make new friends, hang out with old friends, network and really have a good social life with people,” Hoffman said. “[The three founders] really wanted there to be a way for people after college to get together and still have a good time.”
On the actual field, Hoffman said, there may not be much interaction between players besides the necessary communication required to play the game. But before and after the weekly kickball games, players have a chance to get to know each other and grab a bite to eat after the game.
Clarence Willardsen, a local WAKA representative, spoke more about his favorite part of the game in an interview with Talking Sports.
“The people I’ve met here are some of my best friends that I hang out with,” Willardsen said on the show.
The game hasn’t changed much from how most people likely remember it. Teams of eight to 12 people compete against each other, and much like baseball, the goal is to score many runs. WAKA games are generally five innings long. The games can be highly competitive or more relaxed and fun.
“Whether or not it’s relaxed or highly competitive depends on the team you’re playing,” Willardsen told David James with Talking Sports. “In the mountain league, for example, there are six or seven teams that are very competitive, and about 10 teams that just play to have fun.”
Utah currently houses four WAKA leagues: the Capital League, which plays at Liberty Park in south Salt Lake City; the Summit League, which plays at Ben Franklin Park in Millcreek; the Mountain League, which plays at Cottonwood Regional Park near Murray; and the Beach League, which plays at Canyon View Elementary in Cottonwood Heights.
Jakiah Nauman, a 22-year-old business management major and former kickball player from Elma, Wash., said he most enjoys letting his competitive side come out while playing the game.
“In elementary school, kickball used to be the highlight of my day. I used to love going to recess and playing with my friends,” Nauman said. “I think I most liked the competitive aspect of it — and of course it was always fun to peg another kid with a ball!”
To get involved with WAKA visit kickball.com, click on “Play Kickball” and register with a local league.