Last summer, I joined a kickball league. It’s probably one of the bigger leagues in New York – with multiple games every night, and tons of teams participate. It’s one of those “here’s another excuse to drink” type of league – and no one complains.
In the summer, we had a big team who mostly came to have fun. We all had a small piece of competitiveness in us (some more than others), and lost each game except one, but often joked, “at least we’re not mercy ruled!” or, “we’re only down by 5 runs, nice job!” It’s fun to be a part of a team that loses gracefully.
It was this league that strengthened many of my friendships I already had, and also grew new ones. Even though we were only together once a week, there’s something different about being a part of a tradition. Thursdays are kickball nights. See you on the field, and then we’ll play darts at the bar. Being surrounded by my team mates and finding new and interesting conversations to have each week is always a highlight for me, even though most of us had just met.
We all came from different places, many people bringing friends-of-friends to the game to fill the roster, and the entire summer season consisted of jokes about being “real” friends, or “still hanging out” even after the season ended. It started as a joke, but it happened. I can genuinely call my team mates my friends, instead of “oh, I used to play on a kickball league with him once.” It’s pretty special.
We all started to forget who came from where, which friends were friends of whose, and decided to play again in the fall. Now, we feel like a team. We strategize, have a decent amount of skill, but still have fun. We tell each other “nice play” and mean it, and aren’t afraid to poke fun at the times where we royally screw up. It’s been less than a year, and our patchwork team has turned into a genuine group of friends.