It’s that time of year again. The ground has thawed (although it was never really frozen). The birds are chirping away, hard at work building a suitable dojo for the upcoming months. The fresh smell of rain has begun to change the landscape of Kansas from dull and dreary to lush and full of life. Good ol’ Willy Self has yet again captivated our hearts with another outstanding coaching performance as the Jayhawks played basketball all the way into April – I’m still in complete shock and never actually felt any losing pains this year. And in a small corner in the northeast of the great state of Kansas, kickball is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. By now many team captains have accepted the fact that their cell phone bill will be a bit more expensive than usual this month due to the fact that they have been speed dialing team GMs trying to finalize trades and play the free agent market to their team’s advantage. In the weeks to come, as new kickballs are inflated and cleats dusted off, spring training will be in full force. Yes, these are glorious times. This is the KVKL.
And then, before you know it, we’ll be well into the dog days of summer. KVKLers are easily recognizable. You know, the ones with the distinct tans lines that range everywhere on the body from pieces of flare like: headbands, bandanas, tank tops, short shorts, knee high socks, dick towels and banana hammocks? The backseats of our cars are lined with cut up plastic rings that once held a six pack of tall boys. We wake up with a bed full of dirt, grass, and sweat requiring us to do our laundry more often than any other time of the year – some of us anyway. Hobbs Field is our sanctuary; kickball our religion.
Every week many of us will be breaking down match-ups and looking through the schedule picking and choosing which games are not to be missed, all leading up to the biggest show of the weekend: The Game of the Week. And what an event it is. The assortment of individuals could not be more beautiful. There are the stat junkies, whose sole interest is to scout other teams. The hipsters, who spend more time mastering their game day attire than they did getting ready for prom. Some game goers show up simply to participate in the spectacle going on in their own neighborhood. The social nature of the GOTW alone is enough to attract hundreds of people who enjoy random attractions including bongos, harmonicas, fireworks, streakers (where have you been?), and the frequent eye candy that can be seem strutting around the ballpark. Popping your GOTW cherry is an experience all its own. You can be told a million times what it is like, but just like The Matrix, no one can simply be told what it is, you have to experience it for yourself. I’ll give it a try anyway. Remember going to a high school sock hop for the first time as a freshman? You were so happy to get to do something social without your parents holding your hand that you didn’t care that the teachers were the chaperons. Well, it’s a lot like that, except imagine the teachers are handing out jello shots and holding the two story beer bong – rooting you along throughout the process. Yep, it’s that awesome.
It’s back. Once again the time has come to unleash the inner child that has been hibernating all winter long. All off-season I’ve kept my ear to the grindstone, and from the sound of it, I can’t help but think that there will be even more badass teams than ever before. Each year brings new challenges. Who will have a breakout season? Which team will be the darling team this year? Will a newly reinvented team find the right parts and possess the chemistry to make a run deep into the playoffs? Only time will tell. The words of the House of Stark may be “winter is coming”, but I’m here to tell you that winter is gone. For those of us who have experienced the glory that is the KVKL, we all dance to a different tune. Every Sunday we pay the iron price for our entertainment. The House of KVKL knows that “summer is here bitches. It’s kickball time.”