Trey McPhaul and some friends played kickball at his daughter’s first birthday party.
It was enough fun McPhaul sought out a league in Atlanta. But what he really wanted was a league in Gainesville, where he lives.
“Being able to replicate that atmosphere in Gainesville is awesome,” McPhaul said.
He started Hall Ball in 2013, and the adult kickball league has grown from six teams at the start to a height of 12 teams and more than 204 players this fall.
Among the league’s teams is the “Gainesvillains” from the Hall County Public Defender’s Office.
Rose Priddy said she and her co-workers take the sport seriously and have a pair of trophies to show for it.
“A lot of us are athletic and competitive — obviously — we’re lawyers,” Priddy said.
Their competition includes two teams from Lakewood Baptist Church — “Holy Rollers I” and “Holy Rollers II.”
Scott Smith, discipleship pastor at Lakewood, initially joined as a player two years ago before taking the reins as coach of “Holy Rollers I.” He accepted the leadership role because the team had so many players and has coached the team ever since. Last fall, Lakewood added its second team.
Smith’s wife, Dawn, is like the “team mom,” bringing Cheez-Its and Capri Suns for players to consume after games.
Scott Smith said the sport has helped his Sunday school group venture outside of the church’s four walls and connect with the community.
“Kickball itself has given us the greatest momentum in our group on Sunday morning,” Smith said.
The Hall Ball T-shirts, a different color for each team, bear the phrase “Recess for Grownups.” Even McPhaul couldn’t have predicted the league’s rapid growth, which has prompted him to bring in his brother-in-law to run things.
Mansfield Oil has two teams, with Seasons Transport, the Gainesville Jaycees and Mellow Mushroom also fielding teams. Other teams are simply groups of friends.
Priddy said she and her teammates thrive on the opportunity to be on the field.
“It’s been a very nice outlet for a lot of us,” Priddy said. “We have very stressful jobs.”
She said the team atmosphere and camaraderie, along with winning, have been highlights. Priddy considers herself one of the more vocal players, and she said her team isn’t afraid to engage in good-natured trash talk or question a call.
“By the end of the game, we’re all usually pretty happy with the outcome,” Priddy said.
It’s the kind of sport where parents might be on the field while their child watches with someone else from the stands.
And Smith said just because someone is a great athlete in another sport doesn’t mean they’ll excel on the kickball field. He has learned during the past few years the importance of having a strategy to be successful in kickball.
His group was 21-1 since 2013, before Thursday’s action.
Priddy said players will regularly go straight from the field to Mellow Mushroom and take over the back room, talking about the games and reliving the fun.
Being a part of the league is a point of pride.
“It’s run so well,” Priddy said. “It’s fun.”
Said Smith: “It’s been a blast.”
The group plays its games at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays at Lanier Point Softball Complex and has spring and fall seasons each year. The regular season for Hall Ball began Aug. 20.
What: Adult kickball league games
When: 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays
Where: Lanier Point Softball Complex, 1530 Lee Waldrip Drive, Gainesville
More info: www.hallkickball.com or www.facebook.com/hallkball
But kickball isn’t the only offering in town for adult sports.
Gainesville Parks and Recreation offers leagues for adult softball, both men’s and co-ed, basketball and flag football.
Softball season runs Sept. 17 through Oct. 29, with registration going through Friday. Flag football goes Oct. 19 through Nov. 23, with registration ending Oct. 2. Basketball season is Jan. 5 through Feb. 25, with registration through Dec. 11.
Call 770-531-2680 for more information.
Hank Heffner, who oversees Lanier Point Athletic Complex and adult sports for Gainesville Parks and Recreation, said interest in Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s adult sports programs has dropped in recent years. He said the increase in youth travel baseball and softball teams may have contributed.
Hall County Parks & Recreation doesn’t currently have any adult sports leagues.