Photo by The CJM.
Recess, home cooked meals, and no homework were some of the common joys of childhood. So too was kickball for those who were lucky enough to experience it in elementary school.
If you’ve never played, kickball (otherwise known as soccer baseball) follows almost all of the rules and setup of baseball, but is played with a soccer ball. To the benefit of those who aren’t athletically inclined, the hitting team “hits” by kicking a soccer ball that is rolled in by the pitcher, and fielders try to catch these large balls without a glove. Because these changes minimize the level of hand-eye coordination that is required to play baseball, kickball is often the activity of choice for primary school gym classes—or is at least a close runner-up behind dodgeball or, even better, playing with a parachute.
Since 2004, a number of “grownups” (relative to their elementary days) have gathered once a week in Toronto to re-experience the joys of soccer baseball. This group of twenty- and thirty-somethings play in Toronto’s free kickball league on Sunday evenings in Alexandra Park, and they often come together to revel in their lack of athleticism. The league is free, and it is governed by three coordinators who focus on the social aspects of the game rather than the competition. In the words of Kevin Weber, one of the elected coordinators, “the vibe is very relaxed; nobody’s particularly athletic…it’s just more [of] a social activity for everybody.”
Now entering its sixth season, Toronto Kickball is looking to expand. Non-competitive co-ed play starts this weekend, and individuals or groups of friends who are interested in trying it out are encouraged to head out to the park at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. If you get hooked, competitive league play starts mid-June and new teams are always welcome. But don’t be turned off by the fear of fierce competition: Weber promises that even the league games are played in the name of fun, and teams often come clad in funky uniforms. As for those who would prefer to play intermittently, recreational games will continue all season long, and teams for these games will be put together by drawing numbers, so no one has to worry about being picked last.