I get a kick out of you.
In the history of recess, there may not be a more widely-loved game than kickball. From preschool on up, children have logged countless hours trying to best their fellow classmates and neighbors on the kickball diamond.
Combining the exquisite structure of baseball with the unpredictability of soccer, kickball provides excitement on every play.
Thus was the premise for the annual kickball grudge match — now in its second year — between Madison County Tigers Special Olympians and employees of the London Kroger. The Tigers are affiliated with Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
The two squads squared off on July 23 at London High School. Led by Director of Special Olympics and Community Recreation Lincoln Comer and London Kroger store manager Dan Bishop, the teams played a fun-filled — but hotly-contested — competition. The Tigers prevailed with an 8-6 come-from-behind win.
Tiger Mike Ellis began the game on a good note by singling, and then coming around to score the evening’s initial run to give the Special Olympians the early lead.
Despite brief (but heavy) rains during the bottom of the first, volunteer umpires Aaron and Reid Gates instructed the teams to continue playing as they would not let the recent pattern of wet weather dampen the positive spirit of the game.
With the rain coming down, Kroger produced a pair of runs to erase the Tigers’ short-lived lead. However, it was after the weather cleared that the London grocery store squad opened the floodgates — tallying four more in the bottom of the second to open up a 6-1 advantage.
It was almost a family atmosphere as Kroger kickballers Lauren Samuel, Liam Comer and Bryan Ansel all have ties with Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Samuel’s son, Jacob Borders, was a member of the Tigers squad (and would play a pivotal part of the game’s outcome).
“We have some employees that are involved and we support them in fundraisers and events,” said store manager (and left fielder) Bishop. “Kroger likes to support the community.”
With their backs against the wall, the Tigers turned on the defensive pressure — exemplified by a potential game-saving catch by Chad Burks as he used several body parts to corral the ever-bouncing ball.
Burks contributed on the offensive end as well, driving in a pair of runs in the third inning to help start Madison County on its comeback.
The Tigers continued to claw back until they took the lead in the top of the fifth as Borders scored the seventh (and eventual-winning) run against his mother’s Kroger team. He was driven in by fellow Special Olympian Logan Green.
Madison County would tally one more run in the top of the final inning to conclude the scoring.
“Our athletes had a great time — what a fantastic event,” Comer said. “I think everyone on both sides left with a smile — these are the types of community interaction our program strives for.”
To learn more about Madison County Special Olympics or volunteering, contact Lincoln Comer at 740-852-7052, ext. 1917.