by Scott Eldredge
Sports writer

It just might be the most fondly remembered and universal playground sport, and it’s not just for kids on the playground anymore. Across the country, adults are reliving elementary school recess by joining kickball leagues.

Nashville's first and only GLBT kickball team, Toolbelts & Tiaras, won its first game last month on the predominantly straight playground and has already amassed a rowdy fan club in its first season of play, said team captain Christy Ikner.

“We have a lot of fun in general and so far the other teams seem to think we are a hoot,” Ikner said.  "Although I do see them out of the corner of their eyes trying to figure out who the straight one is and who is a toolbelt and who is a tiara.  It’s usually obvious by the ones who squeal when they kick.”

The games are organized by Nashville Sports Leagues, an organization devoted to providing adults with a sport and social outlet. Team member Keith Hinkle said the league has been very accepting of its only GLBT team.

“We approach it with a fun spirit, and we've been received warmly so far,” Hinkle said. “We're openly gay on the field cracking jokes amongst each other to the amusement of the other teams.  The referee jokes along with us.  It's a fun way to represent the GLBT community in the community at large.”

Ikner, a former softball player turned kickballer, said the team was formed on a moment's notice and but has grown into a solid competitive force.

“Like most things we get ourselves into, it was a drunken bar conversation about how hard softball was last year,” Ikner said. “So we decided that we were too old and lazy for all of that and that kickball sounded more like our speed.”

But that's not to say kickball isn't a challenging sport. Kickball rules and play are governed by the World Adult Kickball Association. Founded in Washington, D.C. in 1998, WAKA’s original mission statement is to “provide and promote the joy of kickball to those young at heart.”

While kickball follows the same basic rules as slow pitch softball, Hinkle said different strategies are involved.

“Probably the only differences between this version and what you probably remember as a kid is that females are allowed to bunt... and, other than the kicker, only outfielders are allowed to kick the ball,” he said. There is also infield zone that is off limits to players in order to create distance between the kicker and players in the field.

Ikner said some of the team’s success so far can be attributed to its secret weapon.

“Since it is a co-ed team there has to be at least two girls in the outfield and the kicking order goes boy, girl, boy, girl,” Ikner says. “The only difference is that unlike the other teams, our strongest plays happen when the girls kick instead of the boys.  That is our strategy. Straighties don’t know that lesbians are better at sports than the gay boys.”

The NSL’s kickball league plays every Sunday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennesee, 67 Thompson Lane in Nashville. See their full schedule at nashvillesportsleagues.com.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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