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BLD, WAKA forming league in Manteca

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Meghan Harter and Jennifer Foret, organizers from the World Adult Kickoff Association, lead the ladies team cheer before taking the field against the men in a battle-of-the-sexes pick-up game at Bi...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED August 20, 2009 11:23 p.m.
Are you ready for some kickball?

The hybrid of softball, soccer and dodgeball made famous in schoolyards across the country was in full display at Big League Dreams of Manteca Thursday, when the World Adult Kickball Association made its debut in the area with the first of two pick-up games.

The next exhibition contest for anyone interested in giving it a shot is on Sept. 3 starting at 7 p.m. The CA Recess Division, the name of the Manteca-based league, starts the 10-week regular season on Sept. 17.

“BLD is always looking for opportunities,” said Roy Fetherolf, the general manager of the facility. “On Thursday nights it’s all men — no women. We can’t get women and coed teams to play (on Thursdays) for some reason, it’s just the way it is.

“So we discussed what we can do on Thursday night to get more folks out here, something that fits our game plan of providing a family-oriented (atmosphere). We kicked around some ideas and one of my coordinators said, “What about kickball?”

Fetherolf said that BLD had just three days to promote the first pick-up game and is pleased with the turnout despite the short notice. Some came to the park for kickball, while the rest of the group of about 30 was stragglers that thought, “Why not?”

Former Ripon High standout soccer player David Haigwood played intramural kickball in college. When he heard about WAKA coming to Manteca his interest was immediately piqued.

“I can’t run around as much as I used to in soccer anymore, so kickball is better for me,” he said. “I’m definitely going to get some people (to sign up). It’s lots of fun.”

WAKA regional representative Matthew Heintz of Sacramento was impressed with the players that showed up Thursday

“What I saw were kickball kind of people,” he said. “Back east, where all this started, there are a million teams over there. I’ve seen a really competitive style of play, and I really discourage that for my teams in Sacramento.

“Usually you’ll have a couple competitive people on a team and a few others that are out there to have fun, so they just mellow each other out.”

Heintz, who is currently in search of a regional representative to oversee the league in Manteca, was initially elated to hear that BLD wanted to host a WAKA division. The facility and its centralized location in the region should draw big interest and eventually big numbers, he said.

“Fields are the hardest part in kickball,” Heintz said. “I can get the people, but we usually can’t find the fields. They have the fields, and they wanted people. So I said, ‘Let’s do this.’”

In order for CA Recess to be a full-fledged league there must be a minimum of four teams. Each team must have at least eight players (four male, four female) with a maximum of 26.

WAKA is quickly spreading in Northern California, where there are currently five divisions in San Francisco, two in Sacramento and one each in San Jose, Elk Grove, Monterey and Sunnyvale.

After the regular season all participating teams are seeded for the playoffs. The top two playoff finishers along with the regular-season champion are invited to compete in the Founders Cup in Las Vegas against other top teams in the nation. The 12th Annual WAKA Founders Cup will take place Oct. 9-11 this year.

Heintz said that there are separate seasons for the fall and spring, though Featherolf hopes to make it a year-round deal in Manteca.

Games at BLD will be played on Thursdays. Each game will last five innings or 45 minutes, whichever comes first.

To register for the league, visit the WAKA website at for more information or attend the next pick-up game on Sept. 3. Participants of Thursday’s contest were treated to pizza afterwards. The early registration deadline is on Monday.

“We’re not targeting the softball market,” Fetherolf said. “We’re targeting the next-door neighbors, people from the community to take advantage of the park. That’s really our goal.

“What I like about this sport is that you don’t have to have skill, there’s absolutely no way you can get hurt and there is no equipment required. All you need is shorts, a t-shirt, some sneakers and you’re ready to go. I really am enthused about this.”

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