Well, it’s over.

L’s team went out with a whimper in their final two kickball games, losing 21–7 on Tuesday then getting run-ruled 42–13 on Wednesday, ending the season at 2–5. I believe that was the first time they had a losing record.[1]

These two games were more of the same. We couldn’t kick or field, and it killed us. In the Tuesday game, against the team we beat to start the season, we were up 4–0 after one then gave up eight runs in the second and were dead after that. L went 1–3 with just a double. They against the division champs Wednesday we were never in it, down 9–1 after the first inning.

At least we closed out the game strong. As we came up for our last kicks in the bottom of the fifth our coach told the girls we needed home runs from everyone. The first girl kicked one. The next girl kicked one. The next girl got on base with a single. And then L came up.

Again, she had zero home runs on the season. Only once had she really been close. So far in this game she was 1–2 with a triple. This time she crushed the ball, her best kick of the year, sending it to deep center, between the fielders. But, as I’ve shared many times, outfielders get the ball in much quicker at this level. Didn’t matter. She was on her horse, as they say. The girl in front of her is super fast and L had almost caught her by the time they got to second. She was a step behind her at third and I could tell there was no way she was stopping. A good throw might have gotten her but the relay was off line and the girls scored right on top of each other.

Finally the elusive home run. And in the final kick of her career!

Three of the next four girls made outs and the season was mercifully over.

Although the results sucked I really enjoyed most of the games this season because I got to keep score with some good people. One mom has a son who is in C’s grade and they’ve socialized a bit, so we had some common ground. I had kept score with one dad before and he is more chill than me, so pleasant to work with. A second dad has three daughters the same ages as my three, and we’ve come across each other several times over the years. We had two games this season and great conversations while we watched our youngest square off. And a second mom I had two games with has been both the kickball and volleyball coordinator at her school, so we shared stories of all that comes with that. Wednesday she had another mom sit with us so she could teach her how to keep score (I assume this new mom has younger girls). When she introduced us, she said, “He’s the best scorekeeper I’ve ever worked with. He’ll explain everything and you’ll never get lost.”

Awwww, in my last game I got the best compliment of my life!

If you saw my Facebook post last night, I crunched the numbers for our family. Since M began playing in the spring of her third grade year, our girls played a combined 29 seasons of kickball. That works out to somewhere between 200–210 games. I figure I kept score or coached for 90% of those games, most misses either coming that first season before I was handed the scorebook or because I was coaching one girl while another played somewhere else. That’s a lot of kickball!

To be honest, I’m a little bummed I didn’t keep better records and know exactly how many total games we played and what the family’s overall record is. Alas…

I do know the girls combined to play in two division playoffs, two City semifinals, and five City championship games. M’s team was the only one to win a championship, and that was a shared title after a week of rainouts. C’s team was the only one never to make it to any kind of playoff, something she took personally for awhile.[2] Blame her assistant coach (me) for that. And I do know that our overall record, as a family, was well over .500. That was mostly thanks to an elite athlete on M’s team and then all those home runs from L for five years.

Folks who know us well will recall that my kickball story began the night S and I went on our first date. While making small talk as we waited for our table at dinner, I asked if she played any sports growing up. When she said CYO volleyball and kickball, I laughed in her face. Next thing I knew she was jabbing a finger in my chest and telling me that kickball was a real sport. Pretty sure I laughed some more.

And, famously, the real joke was on me. I married that Catholic girl from Indianapolis, moved here, had three daughters who went to Catholic school, and spent the bulk of their grade and middle school years representing St P’s on the kickball diamonds of Indy.

The first game of M’s fourth grade year, her coach walked over to me and said, “I hear you’re a sports writer. Can you keep score?” Soon I was reading up on the rules so I could understand what the hell was going on. About a year later when the kickball coordinator job came open, that same coach told me she thought I would be great at it. I made the mistake of sending one email asking the out-going coordinator what all was involved in the position. All it ever takes is one email to volunteer yourself for any school role, and for the next four years I ran the program. I helped coach L’s team their first year, although the moms who had all played kickball in their CYO days did most of the work. I helped coach C’s team for five seasons over three years.

It was a pretty good run. I hope the girls have as many great memories from their kickball years as I do.

  1. L didn’t play in the spring of fourth grade, when she decided she didn’t like kickball, and the team may have been under .500 that season.  ↩

  2. Their best shot was having a lead in the last game of the season going into the seventh inning against the team they were tied for first with, and then having a total meltdown and giving up 25 runs to lose. Ugh.  ↩