A league of their own
About a year ago, one of Trent Swain’s friends talked him into joining the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). The 28-year-old paramedic and lifelong Alameda resident has since played two seasons, serving one season as a team captain.
Swain, who grew up playing soccer in Alameda, admits he’s competitive. But the real draw for him is the social scene, which includes themed costume nights – and post-game beers at Shamrock Irish Pub.
“That’s kind of the secret about it,” Swain said of the social aspect of the game.
The World Adult Kickball Association got its start in 1998 in a Washington, D.C. bar, when a group of friends talked about playing as a way to earn their beers. Now it’s a nationwide phenomenon, with tens of thousands of players and teams for the co-ed game in all 50 states.
The game is just part of the package: The association’s tag line, after all, is “Best Parties. Best Games. Best Friends.”
Kickball got started in Alameda in July 2009, when Matt Born moved to the Bay Area from Santa Barbara, where he had played on a company-sponsored team. Born, a software engineer who saw kickball as a good way to meet people here in the Bay Area, said he got tired of driving over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco to play.
The CA Neptune division’s four teams played two seasons in lower Washington Park (there are five listed on the association’s website now). But for its upcoming season, games will be played on Wednesday nights in Oakland’s Mosswood Park.
Born said the division has attracted a number of locals, including Coast Guard folks. Some are shipped out midseason. Still, he said the fledgling division has seen many people return.
“For many people on the teams, it’s about having fun,” Born said.
General registration for the Neptune division’s summer season is open through June 24, and the season begins on July 7. And if you’re wondering if kickball is for you, the league is hosting two free pickup games, at 6:30 p.m. June 9 and June 23 in Mosswood Park. More information is available on the kickball association’s website.