By Kyle LoJacono
ZEPHYRHILLS — It started out as a league for children, but Reaching Our Community’s Kids Sports has grown to include adult softball too.
Oasis World Outreach Church of God has been running the adult program continuously for more than one year as a way to draw people toward Christianity.
“Our pastor (Michael Sloan) thought there was a need for youth sports in Zephyrhills, but we later learned adults wanted to play too,” said Bethany Rowell, administrator for R.O.C.K. Sports. “It’s an outreach program, so people don’t have to be church members or Christians to play. You just have to want to play.”
The adult teams play at Davis Field behind the church, 35636 SR 54 in Zephyrhills, several nights a week depending on field availability. The field is named after J.R. Davis, league athletic director for 12 years.
“We first started the league in 1998,” Davis said. “It was just a way to give families a place to have a good time. We stress sportsmanship and team play.”
There are 16 teams currently in the league with players mainly from Zephyrhills, but also from Dade City, Wesley Chapel and New Tampa.
“It has been a tremendous outreach program for everyone to come and have a good time,” said Ronnie Humphries, team-captain for the Auto Magic Bombers. “We all pray before and after each game on the mound. That’s a rule required for everyone, and it lets people know it isn’t just a city league. We’ve had several people join our church after playing in the league.”
One of those who have joined the church after playing in the adult league is Humphries’ brother, Deril. Humphries said his brother and his brother’s wife, Carrie, are now very active in the church.
While the point of any game is to win, competition is generally downplayed.
“You can never take the competitiveness out of people, and I don’t think you should, but we try and limit the competitiveness here,” Humphries said. “We’re not out there just to win, but to see what we are all about as people on and off the field.”
Humphries, who plays the outfield for the Bombers, did not play any competitive sports while growing up.
“We aren’t trying to prove to anyone that we’re star athletes,” Rowell said. “It’s just a time of fellowship and good social bonding with other adults in the area.”
Each of the 16 teams has between 12 and 15 players. The season is eight weeks long and ends with some social occasion, such as a picnic with all the teams.
“At the end we want to give people another opportunity to get together and have a good time,” Rowell said. “The event changes based on what the majority of the participants would like to do.”
Of the 16 teams, three are made up of members of the Oasis Church. Four other churches in Zephyrhills also have teams in the league, which include Fair Haven Baptist, Chancey Road Christian, New Walk and Community Chapel of God. The remaining teams are made up of regular people of all faiths and denominations.
The current adult softball league is in its fifth week. The next season will begin the week of April 19, with registration running from March 15 to April 4. The cost is $24 per person for the eight-week season.
The youth leagues at the church include T-ball, flag football and cheerleading. Registration for T-ball is going on now.
To register for the youth league or future adult softball seasons, call (813) 715-7901.