The expansion of Oscar Cooler Sports Complex in Lutz has not only created more space for children to play sports, it is also allowing adults to play kickball closer to home.“We wanted to offer our players more options and when we got the opportunity to bring one of our leagues to Lutz we loved the idea,” said Rosemary Curtiss, one of the Kickball Society of Tampa Bay’s founders. “We had a lot of people from Lutz and Pasco County playing and we thought moving further north would allow more people from southern Pasco to play.”The society’s Sunday night league, the Kickers, is moving from Northdale to Lutz. Games will be played on the new soccer fields at 770 W. Lutz-Lake Fern Road from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The eight-week fall season starts Sept. 19 and will end with a championship tournament before Thanksgiving.
One of the players who has participated in the Kickers league the last three seasons is Land O’ Lakes resident Steve Koenig.“I’m pretty happy with the move,” Koenig said. “It’ll be a new year with new teammates and new fields.”Koenig’s son Steve Jr., 7, watches the games and says he looks forward to going to the contests each week during the season. The younger Steve played spring baseball at the complex.“We’re familiar with the fields and it’ll be very nice playing closer to home,” Koenig said. “I think the move to Lutz will get more people from around Pasco to join and that will allow me to meet new friends, which is the main reason I keep playing in the league.”Koenig’s team was eliminated in the second round of the Kickers’ playoffs. Shaun Fowler and his wife Maggie, of Lutz, were members of team Return of the Kick Me that came through as the Sunday night champion. “Our whole team are a bunch of friends and acquaintances who all like kickball,” Fowler said. “We saw the signs on the side of the roads that talked about adult kickball, so we decided to all give it a try. We are actually very competitive. We like having fun, but we also like to win.”That competitive drive is evident in the team’s record. Fowler’s team started in the spring of 2009 as Kick Me and went undefeated in winning the title. They reformed with the new name last spring and again went perfect.In addition to the new location, the Kickers will most likely have two divisions, one for competitive and one for recreational players. Curtiss said it will happen if there is enough interest for the dual divisions. While Fowler’s team is on the competitive side, he said he most likes how easy the game is for anyone to play.“It’s so inclusive,” Fowler said. “The league is co-ed and people in their 20s can play with and against people in their 50s and 60s and I can play with my wife too. It’s not like me going to play ice hockey where my wife stays home with my son for three hours. The games are only 45-50 minutes and it lets us adults go and blow off some steam.”Fowler said he picked up ice hockey after moving to Florida from Massachusetts. Koenig on the other hand competed in decathlons while in high school while playing baseball and football. He may have been a top-notch athlete in his youth, but most of the society’s players have little to no competitive athletic experience.“It’s for the average person to those who played sports all through high school and in college,” Curtiss, of Lutz, said. “That’s why it attracts so many people.” The league had 615 people registered for last spring season among its three leagues, which include the Kickers, the Northdale Champs and the Temple Terrace Busch League. Players in that season were from Lutz, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Dade City and New Tampa. Players must be at least 21-years-old to play and Curtiss said there are those in their 50s who have participated.Curtiss started the Kickball Society with her husband Wayne more than a year ago with their longtime friend Kermit Kauffman. In addition to weekly games, there are other events that happen during the season, including field goal kicking contests and theme nights like tie-dye, 80s and various movie themes. Registration for the fall season is underway and will run through Sept. 6 at a cost of $60. People can either sign up as teams or as individuals who will be placed on a team. The society has videos on its website for people to see the games for themselves before signing up. For more information, call (813) 454-1178 or visit www.kickballsociety.com.