It’s a sport that’s sweeping the nation by storm and it’s not necessarily one you’d ever think to be for adults: kickball. And it’s slowly making its way to the East End.
Patty D’Onofrio and Julie Dyer created the East Moriches Women’s Kickball League back in 2010 and it’s taken off ever since. The 30-and-over league is for women only and has six teams. D’Onofrio, 43, a nurse’s secretary, and Dyer, 45, a licensed practical nurse, both play on the Brewhaus Babes, one of six teams that make up the league. The EMOjitos, who defeated the Brewhaus Babes, 1-0, on Thursday, August 21, to win the season’s crown, also play in the league, along with The Cougars, The Fireballs, Ballbusters and Devil’s Poison of Center Moriches, the only team outside of East Moriches. Each team carries a roster of about 16 women.
“It is comprised of mostly East Moriches residents because the idea was, because we live in such a great community, to do something to support the women of the community,” D’Onofrio explained.
The league got its origins from Dyer, who had a friend in Virginia who would rave about playing kickball with her friends. “We went to Patty’s house for a party one night and we talked about it there. I said, ‘You know what? I want to do this kickball league,’” Dyer said. “And that day we formed three solid teams.”
EMWKL usually begins its season in mid-June and runs for 10 weeks, with each team playing one game a week, on alternate Wednesdays and Thursdays, behind East Moriches elementary and middle schools on Montauk Highway. There is no postseason, it’s basically a best-of-10 series. EMOjitos dominated the 2014 season by winning nine-and-a-half games, with one game finishing in a tie.
The league abides mostly by the rules laid out by WAKA, the World Adult Kickball Association, and most of the games are officiated by East Moriches resident Tony Macaluso, who has been with the league since its inception four years ago. Macaluso, who was a high school baseball umpire for 25 years, said that many of the players have improved greatly from when they first started.
“There’s been a 100 percent turnaround,” he said. “By now they know what they’re doing. They can kick, they can catch. They still make some mistakes sometimes but it’s fun and games. There is no aggravation and there is no arguing.”
Macaluso said the most common call he has to make is interference, or obstruction, when a fielder gets in the way of a base runner. Other than that, it’s simply calling balls and strikes at the plate and keeping track of the amount of bunts in an inning—each team is allowed three.
It’s not always fun and games, though, as things can get testy at times. As Dyer recalled, she and her co-founder would get phone calls after games and had to deal with certain situations. Things have toned down significantly recently, they said, but other things, such as injuries, still do occur.
“I would say most people, when they think of kickball, they think it’s a joke,” D’Onofrio said. “But I’d love to see—especially the husbands and boyfriends—go out there and play because this big, red ball has a mind of its own.
“I think we could both agree that when we both started this we thought it was going to be a friendly game. From the first minute that ball dropped that was out the window,” she added, with a laugh. “People are definitely angry and upset when they lose.”
Along the same lines of WAKA’s guiding principles, EMWKL gives back to the community. It holds fundraisers every fall and donates to local charities, such as the Parent Teacher Organization. Last year, many players attended a golf outing that benefitted a league member’s sister, who had primary lateral sclerosis, or PLS, which causes weakness in voluntary muscles, such as control in ones legs, arms and tongue. EMWKL also took care of two families for Christmas. This fall, the league plans on putting its fundraising efforts toward the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
D’Onofrio said the league is looking to expand. Those who are interested in joining the league can email her at email@example.com. For more information on WAKA, go to www.kickball.com.