By Dino Thompson-Sarmiento and Dean Boswell
All of us have memories of elementary school – some of us fond memories; some of us not so much. One particularly bad memory for a number of LGBT adults: recess. As a gay child, I was often terrified of recess myself. Because I wanted to play jump rope (and, please I believe I could double-dutch anyone under the monkey bars even today), I was the object of ridicule for many a playground bully. Where I did excel at recess, however, was in playing the game of kickball. I was lucky enough to be blessed with strong legs, and those legs propelled me around the bases at lightning speed every time I would send an air mail delivery careening out to left field. It got to the point where everyone would back up 10 paces when I approached the plate. And so, I found my playground popularity.
Unfortunately, it seems that many of my gay counterparts were not so fortunate. I have learned that a larger number of gay adults have horrific memories of all things grade school sports – kickball included. When I was approached by Go Kickball to assist them in starting a PRIDE league, I was more than excited. I knew this would be a great way to create a sense of community and offer a place where LGBT community members could come together to network and have some fun. And with Blake’s on the Park sponsoring the flagship league at Piedmont Park, I knew the after-party every week would be great.
I set out to find my players. What I found instead was that a lot of people in the community are fearful of kickball because of their childhood experience with the sport. The idea of playing again dredged up memories of being picked last and then being laughed at because of lack of skill. One man even broke out in hives as I was talking to him about it. I’m not kidding. Hives. Over kickball.
Undeterred, I continued to look for players. I’m certainly glad that I did. I am happy to report that the inaugural season of PRIDE kickball has been amazing. With more than 100 players taking to the active oval every Monday night for the last few months, Piedmont Park has been alive with PRIDE all summer long! More importantly, everyone has been having fun and forgetting all about the bad memories from the playground. One player even approached me after the first game to say how thankful he was I talked him into playing. He said that the experience on the field actually erased all of the negative memories associated with the game. That comment alone verified for me that the establishment of a PRIDE league is a great thing for our community. Beyond that comment though, the positive responses have been overwhelming. Every player I’ve spoken with has reported having a great time, and several players have already started recruiting additional players for the upcoming fall season.
I would like to personally thank the good people at Go Kickball for creating a welcoming and fun environment for our community to come together and be kids again – nicer kids without the side of judgment, of course. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to thank the Atlanta institution, Blake’s on the Park, for recognizing the potential of this league and for supporting our community as always.
I would love to see more of you on the field. If you missed out on the summer league, be sure to register for the fall league. I promise you – you’ll kick yourself if you don’t. To register for the fall season, click here, you may also contact Spotted Dog Agency or call us at 404.428.0497 for additional information. Want to see some of FENUXE’s pictures from PRIKE Kickball this season? Check them out here.