Is there any activity that brings us back to our treasured youth quicker than giving something a good boot? Soccer. Kick the can. Punting a football. And, of course, kickball.
“I’ve been playing kickball since April 2013,” said Norwood native Melissa Colabraro. “I’m competitive, I adore sports and socializing with friends. So the thought of bringing that all together was a no-brainer.”
For those who want to reconnect with their inner child, feet first, the Boston Ski & Sports Club offers dozens of midweek kickball leagues within the Route 128 belt. There are more than 100 teams, and more than 1,000 participants, playing over the course of the three seasons (spring, summer, and fall), said Laura Nelson, the club’s kickball program manager.
All teams are coed, with 10 players in the field. A minimum of four females are required per team, though most squads have an equal number of men and women. To encourage participation, every team member “bats” in the lineup, regardless of whether he or she is in the field that inning.
Essentially, kickball replicates softball. The ball is “pitched” from the mound, the “batter” kicks it and then runs the bases. The diamond mirrors the baseball model, and runs are scored when a player crosses home plate.
Colabraro, 29, said the primary attraction of the sport is “just getting everyone together once a week.”
“We’re a group of friends with busy work schedules, so to commit to a league actually allows for us to check out of work on time, gather on the field, and play,” said Colabraro. “We love the competition. We love a good game. We love to socialize. And we love hitting up the bars postgame for some pizza and beers.’’
Waltham’s Kate Mullen, a special education teacher, said she started playing kickball a decade ago.
“I was looking for ways to expand my circle of friends when I first moved here,” said Mullen, 34. “Co-worker friends are fantastic, but so often hang-outs turn to talking shop,” she said. With kickball, “you end up meeting people you may not have ever come across otherwise.”
An added bonus, said Mullen, was that the sport nudged her out of her comfort zone, not only socially but physically as well.
“As a teacher, a huge focus is growth mind-set and trying new things,” she said. “Kickball has been a perfect way to model that for my students and to experience it firsthand.
“I’m a perfectionist, and this has been a good experience for me to fail again and again,” said Mullen. “People don’t expect someone in their 30s to decide to try a new sport, but why not?”
The fall Boston Ski & Sports Club league, which begins shortly after Labor Day, hosts games in Somerville, Newton, and Cambridge. Spring and summer sessions expand to fields in Waltham, Charlestown, and South Boston. Players range in age from their early 20s to late 50s, said North Reading’s Mark Robarts, the club’s sports director. The emphasis of the game is on having fun.
“It’s a recreational offering that anyone can play,” said Robarts. “All levels of athletic ability are welcome. Kickball is more social than other sports. It doesn’t really require past playing experience like soccer, softball, and volleyball would.’’
Siobhan Daniels, a school psychologist from Somerville, agreed, saying kickball participants tend to be a little less intense.
“I’ve played several sports through [the club] throughout the years, and I find kickball to be the most fun, the one I look forward to the most,” said Daniels, 34. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and it leads to an overall better experience for both teams on the field.
“The nice thing about kickball,’’ she said, “is that you don’t need to possess a high level of athleticism in order to succeed.”
Perhaps most importantly, kickball gives participants a small window to escape the near-constant pressures of everyday life.
“I believe that it’s important to always let your inner child shine,” said Colabraro. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.
“Life is hard. It’s exhausting,” she said. “Working 40-plus hours a week, cooking, cleaning, endless errands. Kickball allows for you to take a 45-minute break. To be a kid again.”
Colabraro is engaged, and said she and her fiancé, who also plays kickball, hope to start a family in the not-too-distant future.
“We think we are busy now, but we know life will only get harder and busier,” she said. “One of the first discussions we had about our future was to always find a way to continue playing kickball. It’s important to live. To have fun.”