By: Herman Delgado
I mention kickball and you immediately think of young elementary kids playing on the school field, a big red rubber ball, and lots of shouting going on. Well, the Sun City Kickball League (SCKL) is not about children playing on any school field, or about a game that goes back many years. SCKL is a group of players that play out at Veterans Park in Northeast El Paso on Wednesday evenings. The league is made up of 16 teams and all players must be 21 years of age or older. I spent some Wednesday evenings with one team in particular, team ‘Ball So Hard’ (BSH). A team that prides itself on good athletes, great camaraderie, great friendships, and a family environment. Players on this team range from 21 to over 50 years of age, but don’t let the age fool you. These kickball players are in great shape and their athletic ability and toughness is proof of the old cliché “Age is just a number!” These 16 teams compete throughout the season, and their win/lose records at the end of the season will determine which of the two brackets they will be placed in. The top eight are placed in ‘Best of The Best’, and the bottom eight go into the ‘Best of The Rest’. There are three SCKL seasons throughout the year…Spring, Summer, and Fall and each season is approximately 2 ½ months long with break periods in between.
Carlos Cazares, coach of BSH, has been involved with this sport and this team for eight years now. He prides himself on having fun, being competitive, and most importantly, being respectful of your teammates and opponents. Cazares loves the competition out there and enjoys spending time with his team. Over the years has built many friendships with teammates, other teams and families. I caught up with BSH towards the later part of the summer season, where they finished runner-up in the ‘Best of The Rest’ division. This Fall season, they are currently in the final four of the ‘Best of The Best’ division. Regardless of how much fun and laughter takes place out on the field, “It’s more fun when you’re winning,” said Cazares.
Ivan Rodriguez who has been playing kickball for about 10 years is one of the athletes that stands out on the field. His athletic skills and competitive nature make you take notice that this game is more than just a game. “We get to ball with our friends, and many have turned into lifelong friendships because of the number of years we’ve been playing together,” said Rodriguez. “We joke around on the field; we mess around with each other and that’s usually during the pre-season. Once playoffs come around the mentality changes and so does the dynamic of the team. We start getting a bit more strategic….a little bit more intense.” Rodriguez’ wife, Michelle Jordan shares the same sentiments about the game and team concept. “This team is like family, it’s like my little family,” said Jordan. “It’s such a competitive sport…it’s so much fun. I’ve been with the same team for 10 years now, and I’ll quit if Carlos (coach) quits!” She said with a laugh.
Gabriela Ibarra another player on BSH enjoys the competition, but most importantly, she enjoys the break from her full work schedule. As a multiple business owner, she enjoys hanging out with friends, playing and sharing some laughs. Most importantly, she enjoys this group of people and believes the way Cazares handles the team is what matters most to her, “He likes us to respect our teammates, the other teams and not be critical of anyone regardless of if they’re on my team or on the opposite side,” said Ibarra.