Kickball Tournament Unites Community via Teamwork

Ananth Prabhu, Sports Editor

The Joy and Wellness Kickball Tournament on Friday, April 21, 2023 had five hour-long games between different departments and clubs on campus, held on the campus green. The first game was between Biology and Computer Science, followed by NEIU’s Martial Arts Club versus Student Union, Event and Conference Services (SUECS), Admissions versus Center for College Access & Success (CCAS), Creating Access to STEM for All (CASA) versus Free Agents, and Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion versus Campus Recreation staffers. A large crowd gathered to cheer on the teams and enjoy the festivities. Barbecued burgers, hot dogs, chips and soda were provided for all players, and some of the burgers and/or hot dogs were officially ‘vegan’ while being grilled separately on aluminum foil.


Kickball is a sport that is similar to baseball and softball. The use of a ball is a similarity that can be easily observed. However, there are many more similarities involved in the game, such as the function of the game involving base-running and the teams swapping between the ‘batter’s box’ and the field. The locations and player positions on the field are the in-field, out-field, left-field, right-field, first baseman, second baseman and third baseman. The positions are called pitchers, catchers and fielders in all three sports. Also, teamwork is an imperative similarity between all three sports. For example, fielders must communicate to other team members to ‘move in’ or ‘move out’ depending on a kicker’s expected kicking ability. The most common variations between kickball and the other two sports would be kicking a larger and bouncier ball in the former sport and hitting a smaller and weighed-down ball with a bat in the latter sports.


During an interview with Fitness and Wellness Graduate Assistant, Talli Shepherd, an organizer of the Joy and Wellness Kickball Tournament event, shared some insights with The Independent on how the event was organized and why campus events, like sporting events, are important for the NEIU community. According to Shepherd, the mission of the event was “to bring different departments on campus together because we don’t always get to work with the Biology Department, CCAS [or] Diversity Council.” Thus, having interdisciplinary get-togethers helps multiple departments to become less divided.


Shepherd mentioned how they organized the kickball event similar to the Joy and Wellness Softball Tournament that was held last fall. The organization committee created a sign-up form, advertised the event across campus, made the game schedule, sent out official rosters and coordinated staff, food and equipment. On the day of the event, Shepherd facilitated the game, keeping scores, ensuring the games started and ended on time and that workers knew where they needed to be.


Shepherd also shared her thoughts on why participating in campus events, like sporting events, is important. She highlighted that these events bring the NEIU community together and are a great way to get active, learn a new sport and engage with individuals that one might not interact with on a daily basis.


When asked about her hopes for future semesters after she leaves, Shepherd expressed her desire for Campus Rec to continue working with other departments on campus and creating fun and engaging events for the NEIU community. She also gave credit to Campus Rec in revamping the department and hoped that this progress would continue.


In her closing remarks, Shepherd mentioned how much she enjoyed her time as a graduate assistant and praised the efforts of Campus Rec in improving the department.


Aamir Waudiwala, an undergraduate student in physical education, has shared his love for kickball and how it brings people together. According to Waudiwala, kickball “is a fun way for a community to get together,” and it also helps to coalesce people as a team while they “put all previous problems they have to the side.” Waudiwala stated that kickball provides a team-building experience which is practical in any field that requires working with diverse individuals. Kickball is a simple game to learn to play, and as Waudiwala puts it, kickball allows “you have to do short sprints to go from each base, and you want to go there before the ball goes to the base.”


Waudiwala further explained that kickball is a great physical activity that requires short dashes and also helps to improve hand-eye coordination. During his recent game, Waudiwala shared how he ran the bases initially, but had to slow down when he realized he had forgotten his inhaler. Nevertheless, he was able to recover and slide into the base.


In the fourth game, Waudiwala’s team, the Red Team, lost to the Blue Team with a score of 2 to 20. However, Waudiwala did not feel upset as he knew, “it’s just a game and also it is for fun.” 


In the fifth game, Waudiwala’s team won with a landslide victory of 16 to 4 against the Blue Team. Waudiwala was elated with the win due to knowing that he scored at least once in each of his two games. He was a co-captain of the Red Team, and he felt the need to credit himself because “it shows [he] concentrated on the team because [he] got a few people out and also [he] was attentive.”


When asked about sports in general, Waudiwala shared how Judo has helped him with his physical activity and improved his hand-eye coordination. He thanked everyone who had helped organize the game and gave a special shoutout to Talli Shepherd, one of his favorite Graduate Assistants, who was leaving due to graduation.


Kickball is an activity that can foster a sense of community and provide team-building experiences that can be applied in various interdisciplinary fields. In kickball, players in different positions have distinct roles that require specific skills, such as catching or running, to work together effectively. This highlights the significance of sports and physical activity in promoting teamwork and coordination. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, but the experience is all about the joy of the game.