- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Kelly Hauder remembers kickball from middle school, when the boys usually picked her first because she was an awesome kicker.

“I could burn them,” she says.

More than a decade later, she is still kicking over the heads of opponents playing the “Got Picked Last at Recess” team. The name hints at the playful attitude of Lincoln’s indoor kickball league.

Hauder and her husband, Zack, have been playing kickball for four years as part of an adult city recreation league that started with five teams and now has 13.

Most people remember kickball from elementary or middle school. But the game is growing in popularity among adults nationally and in Lincoln.

Playing kickball doesn’t require specialized equipment, a high level of skill or the strength of the young. Players just have to be able to kick a ball, run and maybe, with a little practice, slide into home.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1YoZQPK ) reports that softball is still king of Lincoln’s Parks and Recreation adult league sports. There were 285 teams last summer, although more than 500 teams took to the city fields in the early 2000s.

Kickball is the newest and smallest city recreational sport for adults — basketball and volleyball are bigger, too — but it’s growing.

When Joe Oliva, a city athletic supervisor, started the recreational kickball program in fall 2012 he was hoping to get half a dozen teams. Fourteen signed up. And this year there were 23, one short of the maximum. Next fall he hopes to move locations so the city can handle another dozen teams.

The indoor game is played with six to a court and is fast-paced and fun — a great way to get aerobic exercise.

“It’s a good Sunday night,” says Oliva, who plays on the “Picked Last at Recess” team with his wife, Bridget.

Players have no idea where the ball will go if it hits the wall or rafters of the gymnasium, so indoor kickball can be exciting, he says.

And some of the rules are geared toward the gymnasium atmosphere. Catch the ball off the wall and it’s an out. Kick the ball into one of the basketball hoops on the court and it’s a home run.

“There have been two of these home runs over the four years. None so far this year,” says Oliva.

The team names are equally inventive — “Don’t Stop Ballieving,” ”Deez Balls,” ”That’s How We Roll” and “Harold.”

That’s Harold, for no good reason. It means nothing, said Jarad Heintzelman, who plays with friends and co-workers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln admissions office.

Lincoln’s kickball is co-ed, equal men and women. They’ve had an all-judges team from the courthouse, an all-corrections team and several family teams.

It’s a social event as well as an athletic event, said Kent Stiles, a city athletic supervisor.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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