Downtown Kickball: Why Not?

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Scott Gustafson winds up for a kick while teammates and opponents look on. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

Scott Gustafson winds up for a kick while teammates and opponents look on. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

ryan bigleyScott GustafsonIn retrospect, it just seems so obvious. Like good beer or a chair or The Wire. The motivations for these things at one point were clear but with time they simply became the norm – a world without them seems unimaginable. And the same is true for Downtown Kickball for us. So when you ask why we started Downtown Kickball, I can only answer with a question:  “Why wouldn’t we?”

People like to play kickball and people like to hang out downtown. It seems pretty simple.

A Downtown Kickball team gathers before the start of a fall 2012 season game in Hemisfair Park. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

A Downtown Kickball team gathers before the start of a Fall 2012 season game in Hemisfair Park. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

We didn’t do any market analysis, planning, or research; on a Friday night in the summer of 2012 we just decided to start a downtown kickball league and by Monday we were up and running.

A ball, kicked by a Downtown Kickball team member soars into a field at Hemisfair Park next to the Magik Children's Theatre, the Tower of the Americas in the distance. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

A ball, kicked by a Downtown Kickball team member, soars into a field at Hemisfair Park next to the Magik Theatre. The Tower of the Americas stands in the distance. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

We had two players (both of them were at the table that night and constitute the ‘we’ in this article) and an idea for a semi-competitive league. Downtown Kickball was born.  It’s all down hill from there.

This was late in the summer and we planned to start in early fall. We gave ourselves about six weeks to recruit an entire league’s worth of players and reserve some fields. We started telling people about the league before we even had a field. Omar Gonzalez, who signed up to play early on and works for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, recommended it. We secured the field just off South Alamo Street. Before that, we had tried a number of options that for various reasons didn’t work out.

Scott Gustafson winds up for a kick while teammates and opponents look on. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

Scott Gustafson winds up for a kick while teammates and opponents look on. Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

Once we had the field secured all we had to do was get more players. We discovered this is key to sports – you need players. The simple act of signing up for Downtown Kickball is like most things in life: People wait until the very last minute. Regardless, two weeks before the first season began we had more than 90 players and enough for six teams, which traditionally form organically through co-worker and friend/acquaintance relationships.

Lake/Flato Architects started a team and over the past two seasons there’s been the Southtown Deflatables, Kichelob Ultra, Pitches by Cray, Sweet Angel Babies, and more. This year, Geekdom has signed up a team – naturally.

Ryan Bigley and Scott Gustafson's team, Ballsagna (formerly Dream Team formerly The Newcomers). Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

Ryan Bigley and Scott Gustafson’s team, Ballsagna (formerly Dream Team formerly The Newcomers). Photo by Vanessa Mulholland.

Most folks that join live or work downtown or in Southtown but there are no residency restrictions. A lot of the players come from architecture firms and restaurants, but overall no unifying traits other than players who are available 6-9 p.m., relatively young (in spirit at least), and mildly athletic.

downtown kickball logo

Games on Tuesday nights add a nice dimension to Downtown Tuesday festivities, and take advantage of the program’s free parking. This season there will be four games beginning at 6 p.m., lasting roughly 40 minutes each or until it is too dark to play. The 2014 spring season will take place between SXSW and Fiesta, starting in mid-May 2014.

Afterwards, players usually meet up at Alamo Street Eat Bar for dinner and drinks.

Winning teams from the inaugural fall 2012 season (Kichelob Ultra, left) and spring 2012 (Southtown Deflatables, right). Photos courtesy of Downtown Kickball.

Winning teams from the inaugural Fall 2012 season (Kichelob Ultra, left) and Spring 2012 (Southtown Deflatables, right). Photos courtesy of Downtown Kickball.

Once we had a playing field, players, and schedule in hand we started thinking about the need for some rules.

It’s understood that this is a casual league, so we ask that you consider being competitive, but understand that not everyone is here to kick butt or dreams of being a professional athlete. We have a foul line, but fair balls are often called foul and vice versa – depending on the score and context of the game. Same goes for safe and out. We all want to win, but not at the expense of everyone having a good time. We don’t even have umpires.

Downtown Kickball trophy proudly displayed at Alamo Street Eat Bar. Courtesy photo.

Downtown Kickball trophy proudly displayed at Alamo Street Eat Bar. Courtesy photo.

What we settled on in general was simple: Don’t be a jerk. That seems to cover pretty much everything – except for one more, very serious, rule: Do not kick the ball onto Alamo Street. If you do, that is two outs!

The third season of Downtown Kickball will begin Sept. 3 at Hemisfair Park, with the playoffs and championship game in early October. Registration – a very quick and painless process – closes next Monday, Aug. 26, so if you would like to sign up email us at downtownkickball@gmail.com. You can sign up by yourself or with friends. It only costs $20 per player. The costs will go to materials, prizes, field rental, and an end of the season party.

Spectators are encouraged and appreciated.

 

Ryan Bigley (top left) was born and raised in San Antonio, He went away for school at The University of Kansas. He now runs Plastic Supply of San Antonio with his mother, Jacqueline Roberts. Other than starting a kickball league, he enjoys playing Ultimate (Frisbee) with national defending champions, Doublewide.

Scott Gustafson (top right) lived in San Antonio for four years. He now lives Kansas City where he spends his days with his son, Abraham, and his wife, Megan Dodge. “She is responsible for all the great things about our son.”

 

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