Piece by Piece: Building the Ultimate Kickballer

Like a finely tuned Frankenstein, you can find him terrorizing playground diamonds and shredding up scoreboards. The score won’t matter. He will win; it’s just a matter of by how many runs.

He’s above the ironic nicknames. His jersey will never bear the numbers 69, 420 or 007. You will never find him dressed up like a chicken or even participating in team theme nights.

Chicks dig him and guys want to be him.  He IS The Ultimate Kickballer.

Whether he was constructed with power tools or built by NASA from the finest space age polymers, this kickballer has all the attributes to make him “ultimate.”

He begins his warm-up like any other baller out there – by heading to the bar a couple hours early. Even skips out of work, if need be for those early games.  What’s the difference? While you sip on your finely tuned microbrew, this guy pounds pitcher after pitcher of the crummiest macro swill, with little affect on his liver.  Don’t get me wrong, he has a very refined palate and enjoys the artfulness of a handcrafted beer, but during kickball season it’s all about business. And business is all about mass consumption.

Everyone entering the tavern knows they’re in the presence of something bigger than them. He slaps high fives and exchanges handshakes with each and every person.  Does he know their names?  Doubtful, but you can be sure they know his.  A quick glance around the room reveals the gravitational pull of his personality. Women swoon and watch him out of the corner of their eyes, hoping to get noticed.  All the guys laugh at his thinly-veiled insults and tasteless jokes, as if Mr. Ultimate is the featured comic at the local comedy club.

Shortly after several hundred ounces of adult beverage, the team is gathered and he leads them to the field like the Pied Piper.  No matter the conditions, this kickballer shrugs off foul weather; for he has the blackest of crude oil running through his veins.  Like a postal worker, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, sways this baller from the swift annihilation of opponent.  With thick blood and thicker skin, he is able to fend off the elements like the highest quality North Face® jacket ever made. Gore-Tex® has nothing on this guy. When others huddle for warmth, he is playing sans sleeves and even shirtless if the mood strikes.

When it’s time to challenge for home and away, this captain steps to the plate as if he stepped out of the Wild West. Ready for a high-noon showdown, he quickly punctures a hole in the can, snaps the pop-top, and slams the 12 ounces quicker than you can say Clint Eastwood. His team erupts with excitement. The night belongs to them. He can’t be beat.

Confident in the knowledge that his team will be winning heading into the 9th inning; he chooses to be the visitors. Not only will this ensure his team gets to kick every inning, the onslaught of shock-and-awe offense will demoralize the opponent from the start. A true strategist.

Leading by example, he always kicks first. When his boot connects with the finely molded rubber it creates a sound that echoes throughout the park. Children at play stop and gaze in wonderment. The normal hustle and bustle of everyday life comes to a halt and in that one moment, the only sound heard is the ball ripping through the air. His leg strength is without comparison. It’s not by accident he calls one leg “Thunder” and the other “Lightning.” Together they make it rain. Instead of dollar bills, it’s runs.

His only regret is that there are other players on the team. Given the chance, he would kick through every position in the lineup.

When it’s their turn to take the field, like any great general he commands his team onto the field of battle.  Cowering like lambs at the slaughter, the opposition knows they don’t stand a chance.  Already defeated before the game even started, they reluctantly come up to kick one by one.  “Terminate, with extreme prejudice.”  Male or female – his arm cannon knows no gender.  He will peg you and you will feel it. His arm strength can never be over shadowed by his accuracy.  All equal parts.  As the bodies are dragged, one-by-one from the baselines, the other team’s bench area looks more like a M.A.S.H. unit then a recreational sports team. Battered and bruised, they are on the verge of giving up. And the game isn’t even half-over.

Wherever the ball is kicked, he has the uncanny knack for making a play. Not only is he everywhere, he possesses the agility and courage to sacrifice life and limb for countless stellar plays. One-handed catches, over-the-shoulder catches, diving to tip the ball up to a teammate, laying out with both hands, all in his arsenal of defeat. Truly, he is a one-man ESPN highlight reel.

When he can’t make a play, he barks out orders instructing his team. Guides them left, right, deep, shallow. “Do this, do that.” It’s all an ongoing process. A process that is necessary for victory and that’s the only thing that matters. So when there’s a rare breakdown, his team knows about it. From the casual observers’ perspective, she is rude, demeaning and flat-out cruel. Well, he is anything but casual and he wouldn’t expect the feeble outsider to understand something so far beyond them. He rules with an iron fist that has carved out championship after championship, so who are we to judge?

Don’t think for a minute that any team member is safe. They are all expendable. Always looking for the next best talent to bolster the team, he doesn’t bat an eyelash cutting his own best, but underperforming, friend. Losers are not tolerated.

A friend once told me – there is no such thing as intangibles. How do you measure the heart of a man, especially This Man? But isn’t that what heart is, an intangible? Not really something you can measure, but you know it’s there. Beyond all The Ultimate Kickballer’s physical abilities, he has to have heart and lots of it. And if you are on his team, you better have it, too. There is no quit and there is no such thing as playing half-assed. This is what it means to give 110% every time, all the time.

Each victory is sweeter then the next, but he doesn’t call it quits after the game. There is more beer to be consumed, and a pitcher race to be won.

You know the scene in movies where one of the characters enters a bar or party, the record player scratches, the music stops, and everyone turns to look? It’s exactly like that. Instantly, he’s mobbed by others from the league. He picks the best-looking woman out of the crowd, hands his trophy to her boyfriend and says, “Here, hold my trophy while I kiss your girlfriend.” He then proceeds to plant one on her. Dazed and confused, as if she was hit in the head with a club, she blushes with excitement. He proceeds to drink. The night wears on and the crowd thins out. Countless teammates pass out trying to keep up, or give up and go home. The bar closes, the lights come on, and without a stumble or a stagger, he grabs his trophies, one by the handle, one by the arm and heads home. Just to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. He is The Ultimate Kickballer.

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