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Published July 29 2012

Kickin' it old school: Local teams enjoying Fargo Park District kickball league

Interested in learning more about the Fargo Parks District kickball league? Visit www.fargoparks.com for more information. This year’s season is winding down, but you can check out the last regular season games at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Dill Hill east field at 653 7th Ave. S. at the south end of Island Park. The playoffs start the week after that.

FARGO – As the ball bounced and rolled toward her, Kathy Teegarden rocked back and forth, readying herself to strike.

When the ball got to within feet of her, Teegarden stepped forward, wound her right leg and kicked with all her might.

She laughed as she saw where the ball landed – just feet away from her, spinning foul to the left.

Hardly a home run.

Yes, on this warm evening Wednesday, two teams of adults were out playing kickball, a sport that is no longer just for grade-schoolers.

The two teams are no Olympians battling for the gold in London, and they’ll be the first to admit that kickball requires very little, if any, skill.

Yet on nights like these, the players wouldn’t rather be anywhere else than here, on Dill Hill baseball field on the southern end of Island Park, playing in the Fargo Park District’s kickball league.

About halfway through the season, tonight’s match was the Country Financial Fireballs against the Bison Turf, two of the six teams in this year’s league.

Six teams are participating in this year’s Fargo Parks’ kickball league. It’s the third time the district has offered the sport as an organized team activity, among the other traditional summer sports such as volleyball, softball and soccer.

On Wednesday night, the Bison Turf team was outnumbered 13 players to four. Not being able to field a full team meant a forfeit, but the Fireballs still wanted to play and lent a few players to the other side in order to make that happen.

Kelly Wolf, a member of the Bison Turf team, says she and her teammates come out for kickball because it’s just an easy sport that anyone can play.

“There’s not a lot of skill required,” Wolf says. “It’s something everyone can do.”

And between kicking and running the bases, it’s pretty good exercise, too.

“It’s definitely getting us off of the couch,” says Krista Hoeg, Wolf’s teammate.

Kickball is enjoyable because the games don’t have to be particularly competitive to be fun – just being outside with friends is enough, Wolf says.

“Everyone’s pretty laid -back,” she adds.

That laid-back attitude doesn’t quite seem to be the case across the field with Teegarden and the Fireballs, who proudly proclaim their two-time championship status.

As evidence of their intensity, Teegarden and her teammates recount the story of their Country Financial sponsor who broke his ankle sliding into second base during a game two weeks ago.

The other team ordered pizza while paramedics arrived and took care of the man, says team “coach” Cameron Larson, with a laugh.

“He was safe, though,” Larson adds.

Anyone 16 and older can play in the league, which Teegarden says is another element that adds to the fun atmosphere.

“As parents, you can play with your kids,” she says.

“You can also throw at your kids,” says Fireballer Kristy Pastian with a laugh.

Rules for kickball are almost straight out of the playground. Balls must be pitched by hand, and bounce pitches are allowed.

Kickers are out after three strikes or four foul balls. Outs are also made when the ball is caught in the field, or when a fielder throws and hits a runner with the ball (but not above the shoulders – just like in gym class, that doesn’t count).

The games last seven innings, which Larson says typically takes just more than 30 minutes.

One more league game is scheduled before tournament play starts, running through August. A champion will be declared at the end of the month, and the Fireballs like their chances yet again.

As the team, dressed in matching red shirts, jumped out to an early lead last week (though it was just a scrimmage, but who’s keeping track?), coach Larson sat back on the bench and took it all in.

Larson, who normally keeps stats for his teammates (he doesn’t play because of a past leg injury), says despite the competitive side of the Fireballs, everyone’s ultimately just there to have a good time.

“It’s just a way to get together,” he says. “Mostly we’re just here to have fun.”

Along with the rest of the team, Larson laughs after Teegarden muffs her kick. The next pitch she sends into the outfield for a base hit, and her teammates applaud.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Larson says.

“You’re never too old for kickball,” adds Pastian.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535